I was recently asked to speak at The Natick Community Organic Farm’s Annual Meeting and have been brainstorming, writing, and rehearsing the short talk that I’ll be delivering tomorrow night. It’s not going to be word-for-word because I think it’s usually better to just deliver it freely, but you’ll get the idea.
It’s a very, very special place to me and I couldn’t be more honored to have been asked to share our family’s experiences with the people that have created so many priceless opportunities for each of us.
“I don’t have many memories from my childhood, but one of the few that I do take me back to the farm down the street from our family home in NY that my mother used to take me to regularly. Because of that, I’ve tried my best to make sure our four children will grow up with similar memories of coming here to visit the animals, climb the wood chip piles, explore the trails, eat lunches on the picnic tables under the shade of the tree, buy eggs and vegetables by dropping money in the metal box, run around with the baby piglets, smell the stinky chicken house, go to the bathroom in a real outhouse, pump the water for the outdoor sink, and climb the apple tree.
Our children’s experiences here with The Forest Gnomes and various summer and vacation camps have changed their relationship with the world. Before starting them in these programs, we would be “those parents” that would get so frustrated with our kids for wanting to stay inside to play with their toys instead of outside in the woods with sticks and dirt like we did when we were little. Now, we’re “that family” in our neighborhood whose kids are playing in the back yard at 6:30 am before getting ready for school in the morning.
But, in all honesty, when we signed up for the Forest Gnomes program, I was nervous. Yes, I was nervous that our family may not be tough enough to last an entire year in an outdoor classroom. But, I had a bigger concern: would we fit in?
Our family isn’t vegan; we eat more meat than almost anyone I know.
Our family can’t figure out how to grow a garden and we barely do any of our own yard work; we have landscapers that do it better than we ever could.
We only wear plaid on Sundays during football season; instead, we wear spandex and muscle tanks every day because we own a CrossFit gym.
And, worst of all, we don’t own electric cars; we drive a Suburban and an F-150 pickup truck.
I felt like we would be shunned and banned from a place as pure and wholesome as this. But, I was wrong. I have never felt more welcomed and at home at a place where it would be so easy for people to be judgmental and defensive.
For that, on behalf of our entire family, we thank you and the entire community here.
Thank you for creating a place for our family to build the same sort of magical memories that I was able to grow up with. “