What Heritage Lies Dormant Within You?
Trent Gilliss, senior editor

"There’s satisfaction in the job we do, but, at least for Penny and I, we get to work with our kids. Working with family."
Addison Chase, patriarch of Chase Farm

A confession. We’re longing to illustrate a narrative that’s flowing beneath the surface. The river in the ocean that’s shrouded by the billowing sail but plays its vital role in carrying the ship to a new destination, a new shore.

For the most part, sustainability and climate change reports carry a bit of doom and gloom in their tone. The guests on our program embrace that reality, but they also bear out that the human spirit can never be vanquished. And with this “brightening on the path,” as Ellen Davis puts it, hope is renewed as we rescue what we’ve lost and ways of living that lie dormant within us.

Meet Your FarmerThe two films included here are part of eight vignettes called Meet Your Farmer. Put forward by the Maine Farmland Trust, an organization that works to preserve farm land in the state, the films tell the stories of — and share the perspectives of — eight family farmers who echo sentiments harbored deep within the core of most of us:

"I think people want to be farmers. I think everybody really wants to be a farmer. I think (laughing). I think they do, deep down inside. Everybody wants to be a farmer."
Aaron Bell, Tide Mill Farm

They share our dreams and clarify perhaps a small piece of the romantic longing inside each one of us, at least to some degree — to live differently, to be more than we have become. For me, it’s the notion of being able to work alongside my two boys far into my old age. Never having to leave their sides. To know them deeply, intimately. And for them to know me and their beautiful mother in the same way. The Chase and Bell families are passing down not only a work ethic and a set of values, but a heritage worthy of preserving:

"Children that grow up on farms, near farms, or working on farms — that know how to nurture life, whether it be a bed of carrots or a mother cow that’s having a tough delivery — and know how to even take a life, that know how to put a cow out of its misery, that know how to butcher a pig, that know how to do that in a humane way and understand and respect the importance of it. … To know that importance and that meaning. They’re going to know the difference between right and wrong. They’re going to be more compassionate."

I’m hoping these films prompt you to think about your relationships — to the land, to your family, to your neighbors, to our collective heritage, to your faith — and then distill your ideas into words about what this means for you.

It could be a place — a prairie night sky or an urban garden. It could be an interaction with a neighbor or a local farmer — something that makes you contemplate the deeper meanings of possession of land and its care. The result: a collaboration between us and printmaker Annie Bissett to weave your narratives into a collective narrative through text and images. Tell us as simply as you can.

(h/t to kateoplis)

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