We've also come to realize the impact these old barns have on peoples' spirit. We've enjoyed several stop-bys from long-time valley residents. They've thanked us for restoring a barn that holds so many fond memories for them, in a time when many of these old buildings are being demolished or left to fall in on themselves. You can follow our progress at: boistfortvalleyfarm.blogspot.com.
We're also waiting for news on another grant proposal, which will allow us to take part in a project to restore more than 2,000 feet of riparian buffer along the South Fork of the Chehalis River, where it ambles through the farm.
A partnership of the Chehalis Basin Education Consortium, Chehalis River Council, and Chehalis River Basin Land Trust, their volunteers and students, and the staff of Boistfort Valley Farm has formed to share their commitment to riparian health. The partnership is seeking monies from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Pioneers in Conservation program.
The grant proposal outlines a project that would engage students and community members in the preservation and restoration of this area of the Chehalis watershed, which can be found at farmland.org/programs/states/WA/PioneersinConservation.asp.
Boistfort Valley Farm is also working with Blue Earth Farms (blueearthfarms.org) and our local school district to secure grant money to participate in bringing fresh, locally grown organic produce to our area schools. We host school groups during the summer and are very excited by the prospect of continuing this relationship and offering nutritious food. We welcome the opportunity to be more involved with local students.
From a personal perspective, I'm reminded often that spirituality is a proposition of values, on one hand achievement, on the other contribution.
The devastation that my family witnessed after the flooding here in the Boistfort Valley was earth shattering. Life changed overnight. Everything was lost.
It was the process of our recovery and being witness to the healing of this community, which inspired a sense of obligation, a confidence in the human spirit, and a deep compassion for my fellows that I hadn't experienced before. When given the opportunity to watch an entire community dig itself out of mud and debris, literally, one is provided with certain insights: Everything can change quickly, nothing is guaranteed or permanent. In the final assessment, the most important thing we have is each other.
Once I understood this, everything happened naturally. The above list of projects grew quickly. Where I once only saw work, I now see opportunity. The dedicated and visionary people responsible seemed to materialize out of thin air, making me realize they've been there all along.
The staff at Boistfort Valley Farm and those from the organizations listed above are excited about these projects. The entire process is humbling and inspiring. All I had to do was let it happen. I look forward to taking part in these projects.
I hope we'll all experience a heightened urgency in matters of cooperation and community. The current economic uncertainty can act as a catalyst to bring these issues to the forefront of everybody's minds. Small farms, which market directly through farmers markets and CSAs, already share these ideals and have established relationships with their customers and their communities. They can heed the call and take a leadership role in the task of bringing people together for the common good.
As President Barack Obama said in his Inauguration address:
"Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.
"These things are true. They've been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.
"What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task."