The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” seems to apply to a farm as well. It takes a good team of people, who have a range of skills and personalities, to make a farm work. You would think the main skills needed on a farm are field production related, like planting, cultivation, and harvesting. Other examples are equipment operation, livestock management, or trades like carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical. On our farm, welding is a super important skill when implements break or need to be modified. These are skills often learned by kids growing up on farms, but where are these farm kids when we have so few farms?? Where are the grandparents who can take time to teach? Machinery operation is often a hard skill to master without a lot of practice. How about backing up trailers? Very hard to do, and not many people are good at it. How do people get practice unless they grow up doing it??
Some of the social skills are as important as the hard farming skills. Examples would be: the ability to organize and lead a group in work activities; the ability to get along and put differences aside; the ability to delegate tasks, or train new people in farming activities. Having a sense of humour helps too.
If someone living on the farm does not have a needed skill, relationships with people in the community who are willing to share it is important. Thankfully, there are still people in our community who are experienced and skilled in many ways. These people are so important! Our neighbours are constantly keeping us from falling on our face. One neighbour noticed us excavating for a geothermal greenhouse. He drove in and gently asked, “do you think that location has enough drainage?” Sure enough, after the greenhouse was built, we had to get the excavator back, dig under the greenhouse, and lay crushed rock to improve drainage. I wish we’d heeded his warning. In cases like this, we like nosy neighbours. Next time, hopefully, we’ll listen.
We also need people who are ‘connectors’. Like Rob at the local store. He’s the one we go to in order to find services in the community or second hand items. He knows everyone!
The farm needs people who know how to nurture plants and people. The farm team members, who work so hard doing difficult work, sometimes under difficult conditions, need to feel held and cared for. Since we eat common meals at lunch most days, cooking has become very important. Especially being able to quickly put together a meal for a lot of people (6-14) using farm-grown ingredients! Eating these farm lunches together every day has become a big reason people want to work here.
There’s no point growing produce if it doesn’t get out to people who want to eat it. Of course, to sell the produce we grow, we need people who are good at getting people excited about vegetables. People who are good at displaying and selling produce are integral to the team. The vegetables just sell themselves, right?? Not. It is true, we need people to run the Warehouse Market, and talk to the public about how to cook and enjoy the vegetables we grow. They are the farm ambassadors. The Market team has to have so many people skills as well as a passion for sharing recipes and food knowledge.
People with entrepreneurial skills are a rare breed, and hard to find. The ability to see opportunities, follow up with customers, or know when time spent is going to yield a return on investment is special.
BTW, we are hiring for two positions! One at the market and one at the farm. Both will start around May 1st. If you or someone you know might be interested, please email David (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a resume, letter of intent, and two references.
2 thoughts on “Community Skills”
This is such a beautiful post. I love the pictures!
thank you Jen, brilliant article , it captured the hard work and the loving community and knowledge that you and David have put into your Abundance Acres Elinor