the age of learning

i have always felt that one of the great weaknesses in our current educational system is children spend their days surrounded by others in their same developmental phase. the bulk of their waking hours are with same age kids, offering little true opportunity of engagement with anyone significantly developmentally different.

in my heart i believed that the best learning comes from interactions with those younger and those older. interfacing with folks in a different developmental phase offers the truest chance to learn.  as we gaze upon those younger than ourselves, we see where we have been. we can pride ourselves on the lessons we have learned, on obstacles overcome. as we look at those older, we see where we are going. we prepare for what lies ahead and our fears of the unknown are calmed as we befriend those older than us. with this reflection comes some of our greatest learning.

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learning doesn’t stop with school (or in the case with my children, never started with school!) and i had a wonderful opportunity for such education coupled with self reflection last week at an informal women farmers gathering held in nasvhille. when i entered the room i saw mostly new, predominantly young, faces. i have to admit, it was startling at first.  in my  mind, i sort of still think of myself as a young farmer. (perhaps because i still feel the thrill of my life’s choice) i noticed a young farmer panel discussion held at a recent event, and i actually wondered  why i wasn’t asked to sit on that panel. golly might it have something do to with the fact that i am closer to 50 than 30 and i have been farming for nearly 2 decades?

back to the lovely gathering. once i settled into the room hosted at the Nashville Food Project. i jumped into every possible opportunity to meet new friends and talk of our favorite shared love: farming. the event was purposefully loosely formatted offering us all the chance to ask and answer. the women were from middle tennessee and south central kentucky’s  most awesome farms: here and there and here and there  and here and so many others. i left the meeting enthused about the season, encouraged about the future of sustainable agriculture and confident in my place along the spectrum. i am not a young farmer. i am a seasoned farmer. i still have a lot to learn, but i have some wisdom from the years of working this land and marketing our farm’s product. as we prepare ourselves and our land for the season that lies ahead, i am excited. there is still so much to learn but with each year as i gain experience, i have more and more to share with those younger than me.

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and hey, i can still turn a bed around with the best of ’em……

4 thoughts on “the age of learning

  1. Yup … we here at the Farm always tell ourselves that by the time we’re ready to turn in our trowels … we’ll know a thing or two. Until then (and, like you, after more than 20 years) we’ve still got things to learn … each and every day. Also you make many good points … we have learned everything we know about farming from one of three sources … books … trial-and-error … and those older (and younger) than us with more experience.

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