This isn't really a post about what FarmShare for Homebound Seniors was, or really how it started. This is a personal observation of what qualities I've noticed remain while the program grows into its 5th year.
I was 25 when I joined Erin on the mission of helping seniors get farm produce when they weren't able to get to the farm. Back when she was the primary driver cranking Bowie tunes and we would zip from farm to a handful of seniors, back to the office, or Center Coffee for a nice iced brew. Back when we only served twelve seniors in Piscataquis County and did most of the deliveries, produce packing and calls to seniors each delivery week. Back when I had impulse cut my hair too short and didn't know what to make of living in my "hometown". Since then, I've taken a few years off, moved a bit and found myself returning to this work. It's hard to describe exactly how it feels to be watching FarmShare for Homebound Seniors roll out into it's 5th year, or, how it feels to be watching it at 31 nonetheless!
I think the word I must be looking for is "marvel". Because truly that's what it feels like. I marvel at participating and witnessing this program in its 5th year, now, with a dedicated delivery van, and a triple increase in our customers and solid relationships with our three farms. I marvel at the wonderful VISTA's Haley, Holly and TMak, EMDC assistant Bree, and Project Assistant Amy, our extremely dedicated volunteers, Joy, Maureen, Laura, Roxy, Nancy and Paul, Diana, Robin, Barb and Gary, and all of our neighbors and community partners that have played an integral role in moving this program from year to year.
Sometimes when organizations, projects or groups expand, the original intention and core values begin to shift. Sometimes expansion means the shine of deep connection to the work begins to dim. Sometimes it's because the maintenance of logistics becomes all-encompassing when things are scaled up. It becomes all about tasks and coordination and less about the spirit of the work and the people involved.
I honestly can't say that I've witnessed that happen with this program. Going into the 5th year, we're still responding with the same honest and deep dedication to human connection even when providing a "service". If we reach our goal of serving 60 seniors this year, they will each receive the same quality interaction and curiosity about their well being and their personhood as if we only served 12.
This must be one of the reasons I truly marvel at this program. It takes great courage and a good dash of vulnerability to ask for help. It takes courage to describe to a strange voice of an organization one's very personal situation that makes it so difficult to get to a farm, or get to where they need to go. How could anyone respond with anything but compassion? How could we not remember the names of a seniors pet, or that they don't digest greens well, or that they remember eating potatoes raw as a kid?
I believe that this marvel is what makes for longevity in this work. Without marvel, FarmShare for Homebound Seniors would simply be a delivery service. Without this very human element, screenings would just be forms, and voices would just be names.
So, here's to a new season of human connection and appreciation of our farmers. It's truly marvelous to be in the 5th season!