Why Julia loves TLC Farm (so give it some money!)

Julia teaching mushroom workshop

Warning  - this letter is seriously likely to inspire you to donate now!
Dear Tryon Life Community Farm,
As a student, it can be easy to lose yourself in the bubble of academia, insitutional ritual, and mass-produced cafeteria meals. Tryon Farm has been a reality checkpoint that's kept me balanced over the past few years. It has not done this by removing me from my role as a student though - it has done this by bringing the rest of the world into my learning experience.
I am a senior at Lewis and Clark College. I have been involved with TLC Farm for the past 4 years, living and working on the farm off and on, doing weekly chores, teaching and attending workshops, and engaging in daily farm life. I consider the farm one of the most valuable parts of my life as a student, and in return I have taken personal interest in making that experience available to others. I bring new students with me to the farm almost every week, I invite my peers to garden work parties, and I host an annual harvest dinner for students thats focused on the value of being connected to your food and your community.
"We are going to need a salad for this dinner," I told a group of studets at one of these annual harvest dinners, "and the ingredients are over there," I said, pointing towards the gardens and handing them two large baskets. "But I'm not a gardener," one replied, "I don't know what to pick." I then shared with these students one of my favorite lessons that I myself learned from working and living at the farm; you don't always have to know the "right" way to do something - its ok to just experience, experiment, and trust your intuition with many things in life. "Go into the garden," I told them, "and taste. When you like the way something tastes, add it to our salad."
Just recently, over two years since that dinner, one of those salad picking students thanked me for that experience. "It still is one of my favorite moments since I moved out here for college, probably one of the most important lessons I've had, too." To me, this higlights what TLC Farm has to offer, both to individuals and to the Portland community. The "lesson" that this student experienced (one that I and many others have also experienced), did not come in the form of a book, a lecture, or an otherwise constructed moment; it is the type of lesson that comes from the gift of self-release. This is the kind of learning that follows the moment when, by no one in particular, you are granted the permission to step outside your expectations and simply probe at the world and interect with it. It is learning that is internal, personal, and enduring.
From goat milking to gardening, from cooking food to sauna singing, from consensus process to childs' play, whether you have lived here for years or if you've just stopped by for the day, we are all, in some way, students at TLC Farm. I personally have gained so much in the past few years at TLC Farm that I could not have learned in a classroom. This includes hard skills such as animal tending, food preservation, clothing creation and repair, and natural building. It also includes harder to define constantly evolving abilities such as comprehending and valuing community, viewing myself as a part of a dynamic and living system, and releasing my fears of self expression and experimentation.
These are lessons that are crucial for a resilient and healthy community. The insight to realize and recognize the bounty that is all around us, the knowledge to effectively process and work with it, and the wisdom to value and protect it on a local level - these are all skills we need in our evolving and changing world and they are skills that will keep our communities resilient and compassionate. I am deeply thankful for my relationship with TLC Farm and it humbles me to know that there is likely so much more that I have learned, of even greater value than what I've described here, that I have not yet even begun to comprehend.
Thank you,
Julia Huggins

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