“That’s everything!” I yelled.
Antonio, standing across the street, nodded and closed the back door of his truck.
All of my stuff — well, what was left of it after having donated or thrown out half my possessions — was packed up and ready to go.
As I walked down the steps of the place I had called home for the past year, I looked around me at the quiet, residential neighbourhood of quaint houses and bright, full gardens.
I had enjoyed many moments sitting on these porch steps, listening to the birds chirping and taking in the greenery and sunlight.
But beyond here was the city, the concrete jungle, and that was a place I hadn’t enjoyed so much lately.
Less than two months earlier, I had worked the last day of not only my job, but of my career. How I had arrived at the decision to walk away from my eight-year career as a researcher in the criminal justice field is its own entire story.
The important thing was that I had come to the realization — or perhaps, more just an acceptance of a truth I had always known — that I am the happiest version of myself in nature.
As soon as I’m immersed in the lushness of a green forest, it’s like the kid in me comes out of hiding from my jaded old soul and breaks out into song.
My love for being in nature had really grown through going backcountry camping over the years. But now, the annual trips to the wilderness just weren’t enough.
I craved experiencing more of my everyday life immersed in nature. And so, here I was, walking off the steps of my downtown home and into the truck that would whisk me away to start my new life on a farm.
A Farm Girl in the Making
As we made our way towards the familiar, spacious scenery further north of Toronto, Antonio filled me in on everything I had missed during my recent month-long trip volunteering on an organic vineyard in Tuscany.
I had come to learn that things were always changing at the farm, so it was no surprise that Antonio had lots of news to share.
I recalled my first drive up to the farm, a year and a half ago. With a knowing smile, Saqib (also known as Chief), who co-managed the farm with Antonio, had warned me: “Be careful, J. The more you come here, the more you won’t want to leave.”
He had already fallen in love with Olive and Clyde, the farm’s sheep dogs — just puppies at the time — and the incomparable feeling of passing a hard day’s work surrounded by nature.
As I became more involved with the farm community, visiting the farm was no longer just about spending a day here and there away from the city.
Being able to witness and be a part of the food process – from the initial planting of crops, to caring for and harvesting them, and, of course, eating the final, beautiful product — led me to appreciate what I ate on a much deeper level.
Over that year and a half, I not only gained new friendships, but also mentors who took the time to teach me what this thing called farm life was all about.
I learned how to feed the farm birds and train the sheep dogs, Olive and Clyde, so they wouldn’t be flattening me like a pancake when they got super big.
And I came to realize just how little I had known about the environmental and social issues behind why we’re doing this thing called organic, sustainable farming.
I started learning more about conventional farming where animals are mass produced and suffer for our consumption. I finally took a deep dive into understanding climate change — how we’re influencing it, and how it’s affecting us and our world in return.
While we do have to swallow some bad news in farming every now and then, there’s also so many beautiful things happening in the world of growing and food that provide a hopeful story in contrast.
Chief called it. The more I became a part of Cavaleiro Farm, the more that leaving after a weekend stay would get me teary-eyed. Now, I wouldn’t have to leave.
I don’t know how long I’ll be staying for — or if I’ll even survive the winter here! — but what is for certain is that I’ll be coming out of this farm life experience a changed woman.
>> Read the next post in the #farmlifebestlife series: Lead the Flock or Follow the Chaos