We speak with regenerative farmer, Val Steinmann who owns and operates Heartwood Farm and Cidery with her husband Brent and her three adult children. This is a conversation about Val’s journey to developing a deep and reverential co-creative relationship with a small piece of land. Words cannot really describe this place. Its more than a farm and a cider house. It’s a feeling. It’s a deep connection to something more than ourselves, it’s the animals the land and the mutual integral relationship that exists among all of it. If you ever have the gift of visiting, You’ll often be greeted by baby Kuni-Kuni piglets, large and friendly Clydesdale horses, a herd of cows, and a flock of free-roaming chickens. And at some point, you may find yourself with a glass of their apple cider in your hand. You’ve arrived. Our conversation explores so many things. How Val’s desire for a more beautiful world our hearts know is possible is a driving force for her to imagine a different way of being in a relationship with herself and her land.
We explore risk-taking, looking fear in the eye and using it to bring our best selves into the world so the thriving can begin. It’s a conversation about reciprocity, distributed wisdom, and the value of community in supporting us as we take bold actions. We talk about the importance of trusting our own inner voice and not waiting for permission to bring the things that give us joy and energy to the world. And bravely asking ourselves, what is our inner song to sing? We explore the beautiful intricacies of natural cycles and looking deep both into nature and into ourselves to find them. In the end, it’s a conversation about recognizing that what gives us joy, what lights us up, actually might be the very thing that is the most trusted guidance.
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Heartwood Farm and Cidery is a regenerative farm with fresh air, good soil, healthy plants and animals, and a lively kitchen table. You're invited to the conversation.
Ami: So one of the things I was sharing with you when we first got this interview together is what I consider the term disruptor to be. And for me, that term means someone who displaces our current way of thinking to live a life worth living. And I'm wondering, do you identify with being termed a disruptor?
Val: I think a lot of people in my life would identify me as such.
Val: But, yeah, I, am drawn by something deep inside of me driving forward that. Ends up being disruptive to kind of the normal, smooth unfolding of things, and I guess, you know, the thing that set me on.
Val: This path that I'm on now came out of a lifelong like seriously, since I was a teenager, deep, earnest desire to live out my life purpose. I don't know where that came from. I just always felt very deeply conscious of needing to find my calling, my purpose.
Val: And and I became.
Val: Really deeply focused on that throughout my life and and it was really some disruptions in my life that cracked me open and kind of opened the path.
Val: The path that started me onto the journey of becoming a farmer, that allowed me to really find my own deepest purpose, so in some ways it was life disruption that set me on this path. So I think about disruption more as a supportive force to open the path for me. And do I see myself as a disruptor? I guess so, because I really believe that the status quo and the world, as most of us assume, you know, exists and should unfold as it does is one that needs disruption and that's not out of a desire to be shit disturber as much as it is out of a desire for the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. And I really I want to be of service to that. And it does often mean disrupting the assumptions that the disrupting the world view that we're often unconsciously informed by in our modern society and disrupting that enough that there's an opening for imagining a different way of being relationship. So, yeah, how about you?
Val: How do you consider this? Well, yeah, it's great. I think for me, I, I had to go through a real big journey of of knowing that what I think and feel and believe is OK and that it actually has value in an offer to the world.
Ami: And I think the way that I was raised through our educational system and through the mindset of like my, you know, my family life, that it was it wasn't it was much more black and white, you know, that you've got a job. You went to school, you did things a certain way. And at the end you go and you work. And I think for me, the disruption that came from me was like, oh, wait, what if it doesn't actually have to be like that? Like, what if I can actually choose a life that's different and more in alignment with what makes me feel good And if there's something about an intention, like maybe life could actually have an intention, it could be intentional. And I could lead with that. And maybe what that looks like is that it's not going to be what our culture typically does. And that's actually quite exciting for me. I've found excitement. There's like a mischievousness almost in a way of being no, I'm going to live in town and I'm going to have chickens and I'm going to have bees and I'm going to have a wood fired hot tub and I'm going to have a backyard oven. I'm going to kind of do it differently. I'm going to let my kids free roam and I'm going to, you know, just give them a different way of being with them. Climb to the top of the tree, for example, while everyone on the ground is like gripping for dear life and hope that they don't fall, but that it's it it's in the small nuances I'm finding that it's not necessarily like a big I'm going to cause a shit storm, but that I'm just going to choose to live differently. And that's almost the disruption. And that's what gets me really excited. And that's what I'm most excited about these conversations.
Val: Yeah. Was there a moment for you where something happened that crack you open? Hmm. Yeah, the term that I use. Yeah. Or was it a more gradual. Awareness, yeah, developed in you as you were growing womanhood.
Ami: Yeah, I don't think there was ever for me a big moment, except that I remember this time and I was about 27 years old and I had been working as an arborist. You know, I was climbing these big trees with these massive chainsaws and I really did not enjoy my work. And I longed so deeply to find work that I cared about. But I thought that work meant you don't actually enjoy it. But you go and you suffer through and you get to the end of the day and you enjoy your weekends. And I remember thinking, does it actually have to be like this? And I never had an experience of that before. It wasn't my it wasn't what I was used to like I was and how I was raised at all. But I had this thought and I was like, no, I do. I want something different. And I and I wanted this job at this not for profit environments, not for profit. And I just when I volunteered for everything I could possibly volunteer for because I wanted to work there. I didn't have the experience, the qualifications.
Ami: And finally they said, if you start volunteering for everything will give you the next job that comes up, like we will give you we'll give you the next job that comes up. And that launched something for me. I remember getting this job loving.
Ami: I was working with people, These relationships with my co-workers was so beautiful. And I I decided I was like, you know, two years into it. I was like, I there's a longing for me to go traveling. Like, I really want to go and explore the world.
Ami: But intentionally, I want to go and learn skills. I want to go and learn how to use my hands and go and learn how to look after myself in a resilient way, milk, goats and, you know, almost romantic in a way. want to I want to learn that a me, and make cheese and build things and garden.
Ami: And so I made a decision to quit that job, OK? And it was a huge decision because it took me a long time to get that job and it took a lot of work in self determination. I was like giving up this thing. And so what the shift was for me was that that just because I got it once, it doesn't mean it's not going to come back again. They did it once. I can keep doing it again. And it was evidence for me that I can keep doing this.
Ami: I can let this thing go, because this is not serving me right now. I can go and do something else and know that I can come back and something else is beautiful that I can create for myself.
Val: So you kind of started to trust. I trust that intention. I actually had some sort of power. Totally.
Ami: Yeah. And then so I quit and I got on a plane. I went to New Zealand for a year. And the thing that really helped me as I as I had this thought, that was like, what is the worst thing that will happen if I quit? What is the worst thing that will happen? And as like, you know, a privileged white woman, I got that. The worst that will happen is I'll have to move back in with my parents. Right. And can I accept that risk? And I could accept that risk. And so I got on an airplane and I left Canada and I we went away for a year and we had this we lived in a van and we had this beautiful experience. And as soon as me and my husband, Patrick. Yeah, it was really it was really an amazing experience. And that kind of led me to being no, I can disrupt the way that I think and things are going to be OK, that I'm not going to actually die from from changing what has so strongly been indoctrinated into me that I can actually choose intention and that I will survive that. What about for you?
Val: Well, it's interesting that you make reference to that. What's the worst that could happen?
Val: Because that is a very vivid memory for me at a certain point in our lives when we had. Two of our three children and Nathan, the second or three was just four weeks old and it was in 2004. And so Brent at that time was in the computer, kind of the dot com world.
Val: And he went through a couple of the dotcom crash sort of cycles in the companies that he worked for. And we had just bought a house and we just had our second baby. And I remember sitting on the couch and him calling and saying.
Val: For the second time in three months, that and it's a longer interesting story of his journey, but but he called and he said we just got the call from the company and they're shutting down the office. They didn't even come and tell us in person. They just called and said, cut, shutting down the Canadian office. I sat there in a stupor and I remember Nathan was nursing. And Kiran, I was reading Curan a book he's for at the time. And I sat there and I thought, OK.
Val: What's the absolute worst that could happen and I came to the same conclusion as a privileged person.
Val: I know we will not be destitute. The worst that will happen is that we will have to sell this house because we won't be able to afford the mortgage and we'll move in with parents, with family. OK. I'm no longer afraid of that.
Val: And I think that is maybe for disrupters, maybe that ability to look whatever seems scariest in the eye and to name it and to say, like, can I can I own up to my fear and maybe look it in the eye and ask myself, can I come up with a strategy? Do I trust that I that we, you know, your family system or whatever, have what we need to go down a path that might be difficult? And if we can actually trust that there are and what a privilege that is. Right, to know that you have community and family and inner resources as well as whatever other resources to be able to withstand those kinds of things in life, it frees you then to take risks that might otherwise.
Val: Just hold you hostage, like really hold you hostage, like whether or not it's a game, it's not a physical, it's a mental hostage. That that I really feel passionate about exploring and unlocking
Val: And I think it is important, again, to acknowledge that privilege, being able to.
Val: Even entertain the question of who can I choose to do what I really want to do? I do recognize that for a lot of people, that may not be a possibility. A reality? Uh huh. And I also realize that there's a whole lot of us who tell ourselves that we can't do those things when perhaps maybe what the world needs is for us to find our way into doing what's right, for what helps us thrive. Because when we offer our best selves and our best gifts to the world, then thriving happens around us, too. And that doesn't mean wealth necessarily, although I mean, if you define wealth as community and the ability to trust and all of the rest, then maybe that is part of it.
Val: But yeah, I, I, I just really tune because I've never really heard people say what you said and it was almost identical to what I said. So I said to myself, what's the worst that could happen. And I said, I can deal with that.
Ami: That's interesting.
Val: That's an ingredient that is important to cultivate in our community of brave and, you know, purpose driven individuals.
Val: How do we support each other?
Val: And being able to totally take risks and say it's interesting, the role that mentioned of community. You're talking about community a little bit there and the role that community has in guiding us along the journey that they that we don't have to do it by ourselves, that we can have the willingness to put something risky, an idea out there and have community hold us as we explore that and knowing that we can fall back on those relationships to hold us up when we're feeling at our edge or most nervous or scared or something's come up for us. And yeah, that's been a real help for me is like I don't think I would be having this conversation even right now if I didn't have the community people to be like, yeah, you you can totally do that. You you can go out and you actually have the capacity to do that because that's not something that I knew was in me. And it took that to be able to get to where I am right now.
Val: I think it's that kind of community support comes from reciprocity.
Val: It's what you have put out to the people in your sphere, in your community. It's what you've cultivated. It's what you have nurtured. And it's then also what people are able to offer back to you. So, yeah, it's it's really important to find others who see your impulse to follow your heart, to be doing what what you really believe is your work to do.
Val: Finding other people who see how important and relevant because otherwise it can easily wither. Hmm. Yes, I did want the one interesting twist as I reflect on community and purpose. In my sort of history or my my life story, that the interesting twist for me is that I grew up in a in a Mennonite family and not old order. Not all of my ancestors are Amish. My family was part of a modern kind of community. And and we were very connected in our Mennonite church and in a community where in Waterloo County, where there are a lot of Mennonite families and we didn't look any different. We didn't really. Function that much differently in the world, but I grew up with a really potent sense of. Being called to be different, like and I don't know that everybody who grew up in my Mennonite context did. There's something about my wiring, my personal wiring that I was tuned to that channel. But there's something that was really significant to me growing up was the phrase to be in the world, but not of the world. So in other words, when when you look out at what is mainstream, you you know, I grew up assuming that I should not. Necessarily act in a way that was mainstream, we were we were called to be a service, we were called to be about social justice. I mean, that's the best of my Mennonite heritage. And it really shaped me. So I spent my growing up years wanting to be of service and feeling like I. Needed to find my calling and my purpose in the world, which is kind of a beautiful thing, except that, interestingly, I. Four for you, my teen years and through my 20s, I was always looking outside of myself, I was looking to the world to tell me what it needed. And as Joanna Macy says, if you look out at the world and ask, what does the world need?
Val: The world needs everything. And that will be a very discouraging question to be asking yourself, because no matter what, it will never be enough. You will never be able to do enough if you're looking out and saying, what does the world need? Because the world needs everything. So the biggest.
Val: Part of my journey has not been to ask the question. Can and should I be doing something that is different than the mainstream? That was kind of a default question for me, but I had to come around in the same way that it sounds like you had to come to a place of kind of recognizing that what lights me up, what gives me joy is actually of value as a guide and an indicator for me in determining what my work in the world is. So, you know, even though I came out of what might be called a disruptive context, right. Where, you know, I was. Learning from the time I was quite young, that we shouldn't assume that the status quo is something that is OK, we should challenge that. We should live more simply so that others can simply live. We should be of service. We should look beyond ourselves and our and our own needs and our own family's needs. We should cultivate community. These are all really important things.
Val: Until I learn to trust that my own inner voice and the things that gave me joy were actually really relevant guides to helping me find my best expression of love for the world and my best expression of service. I was always chasing and feeling in some ways the same thing you were feeling like, why don't I feel energized by this work? Why do I feel for me? I was doing community development work in the Jane Finch community and was profoundly important work. And intellectually it was absolutely.
Val: It was important work for me to be doing and it aligned with my values and it was all that I thought I should be doing in the world, and yet there was something in me that was unsettled that just I. I couldn't. And so I went back to school and I did a masters in critical global and community issues at Wasey and unraveled all the layers of the onion through the postmodern lens to dismantle all my assumptions. And, you know, and it was it was really hard work and it was good and important work. And it also left me feeling kind of an emptiness.
Val: And and then the big disruption for me was getting pregnant
Val: That was I would say that set in motion.
Val: It created the occasion for me to stop just intellectualising the questions, just what am I meant to be doing in the world? And it gave my body kind of the primary role for a time. And, you know, Brent and I had been together for quite a few years and there was really nothing from anybody from an external point of view that would suggest that it wasn't perfect timing for us to get pregnant. But I was so not ready for you weren't intellectually ready for it? I was not intellectually ready for exactly that. Yeah. So it was very it was it was a really difficult transition for me. And there's more to be said about that.
Ami: But well, I would love to hear about where you were. That was then where you were you know, you were younger, you were having babies, you were living downtown Toronto to tell me a little bit about where the journey took you to being where you are now and what it has that has where you are living now. I'd love to hear a little bit about that. Is that more in alignment with the purpose you are talking about before? Was that is that the purpose? Are you doing that now? Yeah. Yes. And what what is that? Tell me about that.
Val: Well, what's different about it? I'm curious. OK, I'm.
Val: So I the analogy that I used for. For a long time, and now that we're talking about it, it's coming back to me. I spent most of my life needing to figure out what was my song to sing and wanting to to sing the song that I meant to sing really well, metaphorically. Of course, I do enjoy singing, but and I felt like I was casting about for most of my life trying to figure out what song the world needed me to sing. And when I finally came to the path that I'm on now, which is really focused around developing a deep and reverential creative relationship with a small piece of land that happens to have a deed associated with it, and our names happen to be on the deed. So, you know, as much as I don't like the idea of ownership with land, we have the privilege of knowing that we have tenure as the residents on this land in this time. And and I have been able to get to know this land and to develop a small, vibrant, ecologically diverse, interconnected farm, and it's in that work that I realize I found the right orchestra.
Val: I finally know what orchestra or what choir are meant to be in. And I even figured out what section, which instrument I play.
Val: And it's been ever since I started on this journey, there was a sense of rightness being on the land and working with my hands and learning the beautiful intricacies of natural cycles and how farming can mimic natural cycles, and that our farm systems could actually be designed explicitly to be reflective of natural ecosystems.
Val: And that became such a deep passion for me. And I knew that farming was my kind of, you know, the choir or the orchestra I was meant to be doing my musical thing in. And then I even had found the right section of that orchestra to play in. And I would say in the last 15 years of this journey, I've had a sense that there's still more for me to uncover about what my. Gift to the world really is in this context of being part of creating heartwood farm, and so it's still a very live question for me. And in some ways, there's another layer of emergence that's happening right at this moment. And it has to do with not so much just what the farm itself is asking for and what I'm kind of creating. So, you know, there's always this unfolding sense of what the land needs and how my interests and connection to growing food or raising livestock can be of service to the remediation and the revitalization of this landscape. There's another layer for me that is more about inspiring and sharing. With other people?
Ami: Well, yeah, that's something I wanted to ask you. You're talking about the land. One thing that I find so amazing about what you do, Val, is people in the community are such a foundation of the work that you do that is not possible without that, that this is a place that is so welcoming to the community to see what is possible. But that's my experience of it, to see what is possible. There's such an invitation to come and to be involved in it and a welcomeness to drive down the driveway and say, come on, just check out what we're up to. And it gives us, me and someone that lives in town the opportunity to be involved in something that I care so deeply about but don't necessarily have to have on my own that I can create the relationships with the people in my life that can fulfill things for me that I don't have to that I don't live with on the day to day. But I can have access to. And I think that's something so brilliant that you guys do here is the community is such a big piece of what heartwood farm is all about.
Val: I am really touched to hear you saying that, because that is my deepest desire as I've sort of moved further along on this unfolding path that that brought me to a relationship to land. Other questions opened up. And what was clear from early on was that community building had something. To to do what was going on, and it's something to do with what was drawing me forward here on the farm and and it's.
Val: It's really affirming to hear people offer back to us that they feel welcomed and invited and they feel drawn into a story of connection, connection to cycles of life, to the seasonality of food growing, to the emergence of new possibilities. I see the small ecological farm as not exactly a metaphor, because I think it's more than a metaphor. But the patterns that that I experience here and that others experience here are patterns of living systems that show up in all aspects of our life.
Val: So I've begun to imagine that this place could be one of the kinds of can I say portals that people in in our community, in our circle of friends and others who come and spend time here, can enter a portal that allows them to imagine what it would be like to be in relationship to an interconnected web of life.
Val: And that might apply in their own lives in ways that have really nothing to do with farming. But it may have to do with how they view themselves as a parent or how they engage in their neighborhood or in their primary, you know, marriage relationship or in their career choice.
Val: It opens a lens to.
Val: Knowing that we're part of an unfolding creative process that is interconnected and it invites us to shift from.
Val: Predicting and controlling to sensing and responding, which I have to give credit to Brent, because he's been doing a lot of reading on organizational sort of growth and development and there's a lot of shift in that realm towards ecological systems thinking.
Val: And what what's that? What is ecological systems thinking to you? Well, we are nature, we are the earth is a hole being right, and there's this fractal sense that all of the patterns that the microcosm of atoms and molecules and, you know, the smallest parts in the universe and the largest systems of organization in the universe all have patterns that are similar to each other and ecological. Thinking recognizes that if I look at an ecosystem or an ecological a unit of ecology, which maybe the easiest analogy is like a wetland or savanna, you know, those are the ecosystems that most of us would have learned something about at some point in their high school years. There are patterns of relationship that exist in that ecological system and they're in flux. Right. It's always dynamic and there are many different elements and they are responsive to each other. But there's no no one element that has control over the whole thing. Each element is responding and each element is contributing and. There's a sense in which the whole is, of course, greater than the sum of the parts, but also this remarkably distributed intelligence and each element within that ecological system has a wisdom that is unique. You know, the mycorrhizal fungi don't understand probably, I'm guessing, what the tree's doing, but they are fulfilling their role underground in ways that make it amazingly possible for for the trees to function and to have nutrients and messages moving through this underground network. And so there's ecological thinking to me recognizes how much complexity is going on, that no one living being no one person can ever fully understand and so are.
Val: Orientation as. People in these living systems is to be sensitive to observing what's going on around us and knowing that we don't have control over the whole thing and trusting that there are mysterious interactions at play that are beyond our understanding and and that if we can tend what we are observing rather than manage or control what we are observing, we are going to be responding with more agile and more, I believe, more appropriate.
Val: Responses so. Well, yeah, why did I?
Ami: And one of the things that you said there that I really love and what I'm taking from that is that in that thinking, we all have a place that is not just one organization, big corporation or a big boss or a big thought leader, but that each individual actually has a part to play in and a gift to offer in all of it that there's a place for everybody.
Val: Yeah, I really think this concept of distributed wisdom or distributed intelligence kind of underlines that, that there is something of extreme importance in in the unique offering that each person or each living being within the system contributes to the whole.
Val: And if. If we try to boil it down or boil it up to top down the sort of some kind of or omnipresent or omnipotent sort of wisdom that will dictate how all the pieces fit together, we are going to miss out on a whole lot of the profound creativity and wisdom that comes from letting.
Val: That wisdom be distributed across the whole system.
Val: And I remember when I first learned that that beehives don't actually function with a queen that tells everybody else what to do right. But that that beehives or ant colonies and loads and loads of examples and in the natural world and those are two that come to mind, that each of the ants or each of the bees is playing a role, that they live out fully to the best of their ability, and they respond to the circumstances of the conditions that are close to them, their neighboring bee and what their neighboring bee is communicating to them. And I'm oversimplifying it because I don't fully understand it, but it was really profound to me to think that really what nature is demonstrating is not that the queen is in charge, but that the queen is one very significant and has a very unique role to play in a system where all of the bees are living fully into their purpose. And as I understand it, worker bees go through many different jobs throughout their lifetime. But when they're in that job, they inhabit it fully and they respond with their own wisdom to the conditions that are near to them. And somehow when every bee in the hive is doing that, the whole hive functions to adapt to situations, to have resilience, to have the ability to respond, to do what's needed, to do as to be done. As the seasons change, the queen somehow sends enough messages or the messages come back to her to help her understand how many eggs to lay. But she's not in charge of the whole thing.
Val: That is somehow so profound to me.
Val: What I what I really get in that for for myself is that those bees are not waiting for the queen to ask for permission to do their gift in the world.
Ami: And what if we don't have to wait for permission to do our gift in the world? Because I feel like that stops. So many of us is here waiting to be told it's OK to go and do it right.
Val: Like, oh, well, and we we look out at nature as if we're different than our other from nature. And we see that animals have instincts that help them do what they do. And we assume that that's what differentiates us. You know, animals have instincts so bees know how to do what they do. Monarch butterflies somehow mysteriously know how to make it down to Mexico and back because of their instincts. And we humans, we're driven by something else.
Val: And and I would say that I believe, like you're saying, that each of us has within us a capacity.
Val: Maybe it's a bit different than an instinct because there are so many different versions of being human. Right. It's not an instinct, but there's a deep seated sense of. Inner voice guidance that I think we can learn to tap into. And for me on my journey, what I had to recognize, that it wasn't going to come from my intellectual capacity to assess what the world needed for me to to do in order to be of service to the world.
Val: It was a shift in recognizing that what gave me joy, what lit me up, actually might be the very thing that is the most trusted guidance.
Val: And so rather than looking outwards and waiting for the queen to say, wow, if you would do this job, the world would be a better place.
Val: I needed to turn inward and say what is emerging from me in the form of joy, in the form of feeling and being alive and all of those things.
Val: I mostly am out of place, I think, where I trust that not only is that the best indicator of what my purpose is meant to be, but obviously it's it's the most life giving and satisfying. Place to begin doing hard work, right, because, you know, life life is messy, life can be hard. Whatever unfolds, there's going to be challenge, there's going to be struggle. That's OK. If you are doing what lights you up, what gives you joy? Think about how much more energy you have to face, the challenges and the obstacles because they'll be there.
Val: So I feel like. I can lean into that in a way now in my mid 50s, that has a really. Energized my ability to keep going when, um, when the challenges seem. Like, they're heavier than I would have hoped for. Mm hmm.
Val: You know, I see so many places I could go right now.
Ami: But the thing that's so present is that I think it's why were my struggle has come from in the past around when people ask me what so what do you do for work? And I always find myself I'm like, can you ask Patrick my husband first? Because his is a very clear answer. It's an electrician. It's definitive. It's clear, you know, like we are we've we've culturally created a box for him to fit into and for myself. The box hasn't been created. I have to create it myself.
Ami: and it's taken me a long time to be OK. That, that's OK. That I can actually create the box and I'm still going through that journey. But that's actually when people ask me how I'm doing, I can genuinely say I'm doing amazing because I've gotten that I can create the life that I want to create. And that's you know, it doesn't it's not it's not a different I'm not a thing. I'm not a thing. And I've had to become OK with that. But that doesn't always fit culturally that we're not a thing. But I'm many things. I am many things with many interests and many curiosities. And I pick one of those threads and I'm willing to go down each thread until our threads complete and I'm going to pick up another one and go down that thread. And that's what brings me joy and happiness and a sense of place and belonging and connection to others is those willingness to go down those threads and to follow them.
Val: And I yeah, just wanted to kind of draw that out of what you were just saying there. I, I, I feel like we have a similar way of being in the world, as you're describing that I've often reflected that my role is to set things in motion and I can see possibility where others might not see possibility. And that can cause tension sometimes. And I, I know that you're a person who sees possibility and I have often found myself being that the activator to set things in motion. And I'm thinking now beyond sort of the farm, but in community projects or. Yeah. And different different places where mostly volunteer work where I have been part of activating something new and bringing that into being in the context of community things like our local soil health coalition, even our Urban Refugee Action Group that started a number of years ago. My role is is often right at the beginning before people even believe it's possible. And I can see that it is. And I love to make those connections and help to set it in motion. And invariably, as things take shape and they they come into formation, there are other people who step in and do a better job than I do at creating systems and maintaining the structures that are needed to operationalize idea. And I find myself often feeling a little bit into the background and and going on to something else. And I've sometimes felt a little bit sheepish about that, like just that, you know, I if maybe it looks like I have a short attention span.
Ami: No, I don't see that at all. I mean, I was so relatable. I mean, it's like it's like that's a role, though. That's a role our world needs is a leader is its own way. I don't know why the vision. My head's like a snowplow. It's like you're making it possible.
Ami: You're clearing the things out of the way so that the momentum can move through. And that doesn't that momentum doesn't always have to come from me that other people. And that's the thing I love about working at a community that we're all we all have a gift to play, all have a role to play in making a vision, to changing the trajectory of, you know, where our culture is going. We all have a role to play in that and that we don't have to always get to the end. But we can, like, drop ourselves and we can leave when it's no longer serving us or the project anymore.
Ami: Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. And, you know, and just the impact that you've had on on my life and the life of my.
Ami: Family and to have a place that we can come to, you know, when I drive down the driveway, I just feel like I'm coming home. There's like a feeling of home that you've created here for people that don't always live here, you know, that that aren't here all the time, but that come when they really need something.
Ami: And I feel like you've offered that in such a gracious, beautiful way. What you've created here, heartwood farm inside. And thank you for sharing with me today.
Val: Oh, I'm so honored to be part of this amazing project. Thank you.