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May 26th, 2014

10 things I learned about life from working on a farm

By Quinn Asteak

Three years ago I started working on a farm because I needed a reason to get out of the city more often. I crave nature the way some people crave chocolate. Instead of a bimonthly binge, I figured a weekly indulgence would be healthier.

My original intention with farming was to cultivate a practice of patience, something I lacked in my turbo-charged, urban, entrepreneurial life. In New York City everything was supposed to happen five minutes ago. On a farm, everything happens in due time.

It’s been a few years now and I’m still no Buddha, but I have picked up some bits of wisdom along the way…

1. You can plan all you want but you have no control. This never-ending winter was a shining example. Life happens, you just have to roll with it!

2. There’s no such thing as “having it all figured it out.” Every day, every month, every year is a learning process. No two seasons are the same. On the farm and in life, everything is constantly changing and there is always something to learn.

3. Nothing is for nothing. On a sustainable farm, nothing goes to waste. In life, everything can be a teacher.

4. It’s the little things. Everything on a farm started as a tiny little seed. With love, time and attention those little things grow into incredible things.

5. All living things are resilient. People. Plants. We are all designed to survive.

6. Nature is nature. Chickens are chicken (easily scared). Sheep are sheep (followers). Pigs are pigs (messy). Humans are humans (fallible). All animals have a nature. So why fight it? We’re just human.

7. Beauty isn’t everything. I’ve come across a lot of funky looking carrots and tomatoes over the years. Aesthetics have nothing to do with what’s on the inside. People tend to gravitate towards what they’re used to, but I’ve come to find beauty in the unique.

8. A little bit of struggle is what keeps us alive. If the soil is too nutrient dense, a plant won’t flower and go to seed. Meaning, its genetics won’t be passed on. A plant needs a little bit of stress in order to proliferate. In life, it’s the struggle that makes us strong; it makes us who we are.

9. In order to heal, you must get to the root of the problem. It’s easy to spot treat a problem. In life people may numb out with food or booze. On a farm they may spray chemicals. But in order to really fix something, you need to go to the root and address the underlying issue. On a farm it’s soil health, in life it’s soul health.

10. Good things take time. Spinach takes 40 days, a pumpkin takes about 110 days, and an almond tree takes 5 years. There’s no specific time frame for the joys of life, but all good things, edible and otherwise, are certainly worth waiting for.

What are some life lessons you’ve learned from pursuing your passions? Share them with us on Twitter or Instagram with the #kindawesome hashtag.

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