Jay Martin: Since attending the Whole Thinking retreat at Knoll Farm in July of 2008 my life and world have gone through some interesting and exciting changes, some of which have been a direct result of having attended the retreat. The non-profit I was working with at the time has dissolved the unfortunate result of poor leadership. Watching that happen was a distressing time for me having worked very hard for 4 years, along with a committed group of people, to get it established. Before the break up we did help 6 start-up farmers with technical advice and marketing strategies. They are all still farming successfully in the area, so all was not lost. I have continued to farm here at Provident, shifting my attention to farming the â€œbackside of the seasonâ€? as Eliot Coleman would say. We still grow a few vegetables in the summer months but our focus is on production from fall through spring, utilizing high tunnels and other season extension tools. The changing climate here on the Delmarva Peninsula allows for this transition. Having very little competition in the winter helps too! In the fall of 2010 I was asked by the Environmental Studies Department at Salisbury University if I would be interested in teaching a course at SU on organic gardening and small scale farming. I leaped on the opportunity and have found doing so to be very rewarding. Nurturing the enthusiasm of young people interested in growing food and exposing them to the joys derived from doing so charges my batteries! So far, I have taught the class for 2 spring semesters and one fall semester to a total of 42 students, very few of whom had any previous farming experience. Twenty seven of them have gone on to work on farms in the summer and 7 that I
know of are considering farming as a career. John Carroll, who I met at Knoll Farm, was helpful in shaping the class. One of my operating principles is “Put your good where it does the most” and I feel that while my teaching skills need development, the class has been inspirational to my students. In the spring of 2012 the Environmental Studies faculty members met to discuss the possibility of starting a student farm at SU. The head of the department was able to secure grant money to design a 2 acre market garden with the intent to supply the dining hall with fresh vegetables. I have been working on that project since and we are hoping to begin double digging raised beds and constructing a high tunnel next summer toward that goal. The gardens will be managed on the principles of the Bio-Intensive method of Alan Chadwick and John Jeavons. I often reflect on my week at Knoll Farm in 2008 and the fine people I met there. I have to admit that I have not stayed in contact with them but the impact of that week has stayed with me. I realized, after “digesting” that week of sharing and caring, that my hermit activism was not enough and I had to come out of hiding and do more. For that transformative experience I am very grateful to all of you at Knoll Farm and to the other participants in the retreat. Blessings to all, Jay Martin Provident Farm Bivalve, Md.