A Collaborative Nature
Recently, we held our first farm workshop on plant infusions, and it felt like bit of Neil Armstrong moment here. It was just “one small step” into the barn, but you could feel something larger afoot; a real sense of community gathering force. A small confederation of friends and strangers traveled from the different veins of Maryland, and collected in our corner Baltimore’s North County. Our goal was to share a process for combining oils with plant sensory profiles; infusing body with body to create something new for our own. Perhaps the most exciting part of the day was a reflection on what led us here. The story for this particular event began back in the summer when we met our friend Priya, of Priyameanslove Bodycare, and began chattering about new ways to bring plants to life on the farm. That was the beginning of our collaboration, which is what this story is all about.
Collaboration is the spirit of adaptation. The term has begun to come up frequently in marketing campaigns, and often describes people combining efforts to create something. Lets take that definition out of the box of people and expand it into a more holistic concept. Our working with Priya represents social collaboration, where people blend their creative energy together and find new solutions, but people are not the only collaborators. Humans, trees, fungi, ants, wolves; we all survive by forming connective patterns of sharing resources. Collaboration is the term we have created, and it represents social symbiosis; but this pattern extends beyond the human element. Among all manner of life; there is a basic need to work together for survival. It exists in human culture, and beyond it, connecting plant, animal and mineral communities through social and biological “collaborations”.
Though different as we are in many ways, humans are really just another animal wandering the earth. So, it makes sense that Exploring the idea that collaborations are everywhere opens our eyes to just how many potential partners we have in this world. We have, for a long time now, made familiar partners with a number of specific plants and animals. We also enjoy the benefit of natural collaborations on a daily basis. Lets start with a collaboration that exists in a world that we can’t see.
Air is enlivened by symbiosis. Tall trees in a forest only grow to the sky because long ago they made friends with the little mushrooms below. Mycelia, or mushroom “roots” wind through the earth, making weblike colonies. As their network grows, mycelia break down minerals and collect water formerly inaccessible to roots; plants in turn lend the hungry fungi and bacteria sugar for carbo-loading. Trees create sugar from the sun, fungi mine minerals from the earth and the two share their talent; a collaborative nexus of life thrives, so long as soil remains undisturbed. Their biological partnership works together and creates living colonies above, below and across soil landscapes; the rest of us enjoy the benefits created by breathing oxygen this partnership exhales into the atmosphere.
Food is a wonderful example of social collaborative between people, which, also, inevitably involves nature. Before people lived in societies, individuals shared a variety of personal talents for finding food in the wild. Combining efforts did much better to keep their bellies full, and life more stable. Through a long era of shared observations while gathering food and experiences of trials and error, people made their first efforts to intentionally create an environment to cultivate plants. Farming emerged through their cohesive knowledge, and a unique intuition. Most of the crops we eat today are a collaboration between natural cross pollination, and the human hand of intentional intervention.
Farming is not limited to a sole intention of growing food. A farmer has forever been a collaborator with those Artisans who give purpose to their crops. A chef lends taste, smell and sight to create food from sustenance; a potter creates shape from the earth to form vessels that extend the life of food after harvest. In history, the basis of community was forged along the evolution of these collaborations; and then sharing these collaborations amongst each other. The whole human network depends on our social wheel turning around its axle. That is why we call it Agriculture. Food is a system of collaboration, and it requires a network of unique skills, experiences and perspectives to keep up with our hungry needs in a rolling landscape of changing seasons. We are excited to continue the journey here and share the collaborations that we observe along the way as agriculture grows Star Bright Farm.
If you are interested in jumping into our growing community around the farm, we are hosting a workshop in our barn on Sunday, March 18. Our workshop will be in Collaboration with friend and partner Priya Narasimham, where we will explore the process of taking herbs and oils to make nourishing body butters. If you are interested, we have signs ups available in our online store here. In the meantime, enjoy the seasonal change as we march towards spring.