This is the second installment of our two-part series, Growing in 2020, as two of our women farmers reflect on their experiences working throughout the pandemic. To read Part 1 written by Jess Brobst, Dairy Herd Manager, click here.
Therapy and Privilege in the Setting of a Pandemic
by Jessica Dodd, Assistant Vegetable Manager
A takeaway I treasure from farming during the onset of this ongoing pandemic was the depth at which I came to know each person I was working with on the farm. And I don’t mean this in the direct sense of really knowing their story, their personality, becoming friends…. It is still something diﬃcult to describe to you, reader. It perhaps had to do with literally feeling so much beside others who were also feeling so much while we all tried to do so much in the face of a pandemic. Our sensitive edges were visible to teach us about each other in a new way, as we moved through a new event with an openness to workplace vulnerability and intimacy that would gift us unexpected uniﬁcation as a farm team of “essential workers.”
In the vegetable production, we often joke that a day in the ﬁelds (transplanting, harvesting, hoeing…) is often handled by the crew similarly to a long car ride. Everyone starts oﬀ enthusiastic and talking a lot, ready for the task, ready for the trip. Then comes the expected lull where we all go quiet/internal, and everyone is just thinking in the same space as time goes by (200 more plants in the ground or 200 more miles driven). And then someone starts up a new conversation as they get pulled from their wandering thoughts, or they want to share something they’ve seen or we need to do something (go get more harvesting totes or pull over to go to the bathroom).
The pandemic isolated us from each other in many ways last year. We were unable to engage socially in the same ways as before and could not even visit our families and close friends.
Many people spent extra time this past year on Zoom, FaceTime, or phone calls with each other to ﬁll the gaps. Unconsciously, we found that our co-workers often took on the roles normally ﬁlled by family and friends. Our in-ﬁeld road trip conversations traversed well beyond their normal depth, and we found ourselves grappling with larger questions. Shouldering the force of the unknown, we often conﬁded in each other as we harvested or hoed, and we turned to one another for support at unexpected times, thus forging us into a new sort of family unit.
Our Farm Team, minus a few apprentices who’d already left, standing in our newly constructed greenhouse at the end of the Growing Season.