Like most everyone on Instagram these days, we do a good job at showing off the beauty around us. Brightly colored vegetables, brilliant sunrises, big smiles, perfect rows of lettuce, and buckets filled with rainbow-colored eggs - our little farm has no shortage of beautiful moments captured on the phones in our pockets. We're blessed to be surrounded by God's beauty and we're thankful for such a privilege.
But we're keeping a secret.
2021 was our third year failing to successfully grow Sungold tomatoes
It's not all beautiful.
There. I said it. Sometimes it's downright ugly. Farming, I've discovered, is like a roller coaster where the highs have you soaring above the clouds and the lows can knock the breath out of you. For every perfect, beautiful photo there is at least one failure, heartbreak or disappointment that doesn't make the camera roll. From chickweed that gets out of control in the greenhouse, to an aphid infestation, to the loss of an entire crop of cabbage that succumbed to a mysterious rot, we have our share of decidedly not-so-pretty moments. In bouts of frustration (and sometimes panic), I've quit farming more times than I care to admit.
None of this gets posted on social media. Pride keeps me from sharing the failures and, honestly, I don't think people really want to see them. But lately I've started to feel a little guilty when folks comment on how perfect our farm looks or a customer asks how we keep everything running so smoothly. Our Instagram feed isn't a lie, but it also isn't the full story. Farming, like most anything in life, is a messy, imperfect business.
Above: Torrential downpour wiped away an entire garden of seedlings
The longer I do the work of growing food and the more distance I get from the disappointments, the more clearly I can see that failure is more friend than foe. The aphid infestation in the kale patch led me to learn more about how soil health impacts plant susceptibility to insects. Balancing minerals in the soil not only deterred aphids in later years, but plant growth and taste was vastly improved as a result. I have dozens of these examples to draw from.
Albert Einstein wisely said, "Failure is success in progress." If that's true (and I believe it is), we are sprinting toward something great on this little farm. I'll try to remember this mantra the next time I fail. I'll try to remind myself that failure is, well, beautiful.