Q&A with Carla Fletcher, EarthDance Farms

Ferguson, MO

October 2015

In late September, 2015, we noticed a stunning photo of a farm apprentice from EarthDance Farms in Ferguson, MO. This apprentice was a single woman in her seventies named Carla Fletcher.  We contacted Carla to ask her how she became interested in the EarthDance apprenticeship. Here is her response. 

 

Applying for a farm apprenticeship at EarthDance Farms was possibly the most selfish thing I’ve done this year.  I did it on a whim, barely in time to meet the deadline.  I wanted to learn how to be a better gardener and to improve my physical health.  Mostly, I wanted to do something for my spirit, which took a beating this year in the struggle to find my way through the messiness swirling about us in Ferguson.  I’d been involved in many activities in our town, all of them pretty intense.  The idea of a day away from it all out in the field sounded heavenly.  To my astonishment, I was not only accepted but even awarded a scholarship, despite the fact that the chances of a single woman in her seventies establishing an organic farm in the future are little to none.

Nothing prepared me for the gifts this summer has given me.  Of course I will be a better gardener and have kept physically fit.  And it is truly heavenly to be out in the fields away from it all for one day a week.  It has also been challenging to work in cold rain and summer heat and to face up to my physical limitations.  I don’t like it that I periodically step into a planting bed, nearly lose my balance now and then, and struggle to lift heavy buckets of dirt or squash.  

 

On the other hand, there is little more satisfying than getting covered in mud, picking a few extra sun gold tomatoes or ground cherries as I walk by, or leaving with a bag full of new vegetables and learning how to cook them.  However, none of these experiences compare with the gifts of the community.  The teacher managers with their endless patience set the tone and certainly illustrate the intentionality with which EarthDance views sustainable community in a wholistic way.  

 

Yet even the excellent management and teaching are outweighed by the power of the experience of working with the young farmers who do this with me.  Varied as they are in age, experience, personality, and aspirations, they hold in common certain qualities of kindness and generosity that are a joy to find all in one place.  All through the season I have been blessed with their welcome, help, encouragement, and friendship.  They bring depths of experience that frequently amaze me.  Their hopes inspire me.  The knowledge that EarthDance Farms is bringing this splendid gift of humanity to the future of our world warms my soul.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           -Carla Fletcher

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Shelburne Farms is the coordinating organization for the Farm-Based Education Network 

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