As I said before I’m currently in the Organic Farmer Training Program at Michigan State University. Last week we spent a good amount of time going over berry pruning, the week before we went over fruit tree pruning.
We were given the opportunity to get in with the shears and prune away. We had guidance all around us which took away some of the intimidation- the intimidation of I might destroy all of this. Honestly, I found it quite exciting. Pruning fascinates and excites me because it challenges so much of how I see the world.
I constantly view things with the “more is more is more” tinted glasses of life. More Work- More Money. More Food-More Nourished. More Friends-More Connection. More Giving-More Love. More Time in the Pew-More Faith. More Exercise-More Beauty.
There is always more. More that I could have. More that I could give.
Yet, pruning works against that idea. Pruning is removing, lessening, taking away and creating space for new. As it says in this diagram from my class workbook, pruning helps rejuvenate growth. At first I looked at the tree and thought why would you remove anything? These branches can bare fruit so, just leave them, I’ll get more fruit right? However, by pruning away the excess the fruits that grow have the space they need to grow. Pruning creates space for something new.
That trimming away of excess helps to direct the plants and the direction the plant grows. I know this applies to my life. I want to go, go, go. Things will work out and I’ll just go in the direction
I find myself. Yet, when I step back, get grounded and look at the big picture- what is not needed here? Sometimes that means removing people from my life, pruning out those that do not help me grow in the direction I want to go.
While working on pruning grapevines, Dr. Eric Hanson (MSU- Dept of Horticulture) was walking me through how we have to remove last years growth. I was nervous. There is hardly anything there once we remove last year’s growth. I couldn’t see what would be left. He reassured me we had to because last year’s growth wouldn’t bare fruit anymore. This had me thinking about how we can get stuck in our past glories. I see trail buddies from last year struggling to move past the glory of a thru hike. We are regular people now, no longer the grizzled thru hiker. The fruits of our past work have already been harvested and now there is a tangled mess of veins that need to be removed. We remove those stories about ourselves, the stories of who we once were.
As someone who used to be a 100% able bodied and now rocks out more at a solid 80% I have struggled with this. I used to, I used to, I used to can be a fight in my brain as I struggle through things that once were so easy.
What I used to be is no long who I am.
Once I remove all that excess and get ground in who I am, who I have always been, and who I will be tomorrow then I have the space to grow and be what I need right now and work on what I need for the future. No longer weighed down by the “used-to-be blues.”
Not all the lessons of the farm are about plant cells , although the reading assignments last week reminded me how much attention I didn’t pay in 8th grade biology- don’t worry y’all chloroplast is still a thing whether you remember what it is or not. Connecting with plants, the earth, nature, its easy to see how we’re all connected. Farm lessons are life lessons.
Less is more.
Remove what doesn’t survive you.