Starting Lily’s Farm: Teamwork makes the Dreamwork

Collaboration, with the universe or the farmer next door, may not provide a new truck, but it can give you a place to sell your eggs.

I asked the universe for a truck the other day (via Facebook). Specifically an extremely cheap, reliable truck with four wheel drive that’s good on gas. My friendly neighborhood mechanic (and loyal egg customer) informed me that such a thing doesn’t exist.

The universe, however, responded. It brought me gifts of drip tape, reality checks, tough love, seasoned advice, fresh picked asparagus, offers of seedlings, greenhouse space, equipment and mentorship, mechanical expertise, kind words, good company and crates of seed potatoes. It’s true that you don’t always get what you want. But sometimes you do get what you need.

Lately, it seems like every farmer I’ve run into (and many non-farmers) has offered their help, the use of their equipment, and their knowledge, unsolicited, with no expectation of anything in return. I’m not great at asking for help, so to have so much freely given has been priceless. My number one WWOOFer has been tireless, cheerful, clever, efficient, punctual, thorough, and flexible, even when I have not been. So many things are so much easier with two people, from lifting and squishing a lawnmower into my backseat to filling up the chickens’ water without the hose spraying everywhere.

I’m happy to be here these days, as midday swim breaks become a real possibility (I did it once and it was cold!) and the season’s first harvests make their way to my table, but there’s also things I’m missing about the Hudson Valley. Mostly, it’s the people, and the very strong, connected agricultural community that was also so willing to give, help, share and organize. I know that also exists here, and I’m starting to feel my way into it. I’ve been going to some local farm events when my schedule allows, organized by the local CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training). And Abra Morawiec, of Fiesty Acres, and I are hatching a plan to start a Long Island chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition. We hope it will keep folks in touch to come together to make our voices heard on issues of land access, what local food really means, and how to encourage the best use of this beautiful landscape we share.

In that lovely communal spirit, my neighbor, The Farm Beyond, is letting me sell eggs at their pop-up farm stand at the Charnews Agricultural Center barn on Fridays from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. starting June 10!  So come get fresh eggs and whatever delicious, interesting vegetables they’re harvesting that week. I’m sure that together, we can make a whole, yummy meal.

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Lily Dougherty-Johnson is a native North Forker, finally pursuing a lifelong dream of farming. She writes from her home in Greenport, New York, watching out the windows as her chickens misbehave.