A year ago today Brandon and I sat in a room to share a dream we had.
We were so excited about the possibility of expanding the opportunities to welcome people to our farm with a small campground. We only became aware that there were rumors and outlandish ideas of what our plan was only a few days before we were to go before the board of zoning, and unfortunately only one individual ever reached out to us directly to ask questions.
Brandon stood in front of this room, filled with family and neighbors who had known him his whole life, to share about our success with farm stays and the ways in which we wanted to expand this possibility. This was not only as a business endeavor, but more importantly as a way to share and educate people on our agricultural lifestyle.
We were turned down. Our dream was postponed.
As I reflect on that day, I keep seeing in my mind the printed powerpoint presentation that was submitted to the board by the lawyer hired by a family member to speak against our dream.
The cover slide read, "Saving Our Community." Wow. That evening, a lot of what people said was difficult to hear - how they misrepresented our business, our plan, and us as people was incredibly hurtful. People lied. But "saving our community"? That still hurts. I didn't realize we were destroying it.
Over the past year, I've thought a lot about that cover slide. I wonder what they hoped they were saving the community from. We've continued to welcome people to our farm through Harvest Host and Airbnb. The people that come to visit and find a place of rest here in little ole Pomaria are coming for a variety of reasons, and I often think, are these the people they were hoping to save everyone from?
Were they hoping to save our community from the Canadian family traveling the East coast as a new family of 4 while the mom and dad were still on parental leave and they wanted to create memorable experiences for their children?
Were they saving the community from the couple traveling to Newberry County, of all places, to await the birth of the child they were chosen to be the adoptive parents for?
Is the hope to save the community from the countless families traveling to our farm to experience a farm for the very first time and leave with an even greater appreciation for agriculture and the work it takes to put food on their plate?
Is the hope to save the community from those individuals coming to learn more about our farming practices so that they too can raise their own food?
Is the hope to save the community from our guests that are encouraged to and do go visit and support other local businesses in the area while they're with us?
Are we saving the community from the 3 incredible men who came to work the outage at the local nuclear plant that employs so many from our area?
Are we saving the community from the family traveling in for an unexpected funeral and looking for a place to stay as they come to gather and mourn the loss of a loved one?
Or maybe we're saving it from the family traveling from just the town of Irmo so they can see a meteor shower that would have been polluted by the lights of the city where they live?
Oh, I know. I wonder if the hope was to save the community from one of our most recent visitors, the United States Honor Network that travels the country with the US Honor Flag to honor America's fallen heroes.
I could go on and on.
To this day, only one person reached out after the hearing to Brandon or I. They didn't apologize, but recognized how hard it must have been for Brandon to walk into that room and how well he kept his composure.
Like I said, our dream was not ended or crushed, it was merely postponed. I don't have a superhero complex and I certainly don't think what we're doing is "saving" this community, but I am also sure that this community does not need to be saved from us. We will continue to welcome people to our farm with open arms and minds to their stories and the reasons that bring them to our tiny town. We will continue to send them a list of our favorite local businesses to go and support. We will continue to educate and share about our farming practices and the world of agriculture in hopes of reminding people that ALL those who grow and raise our food are hard workers and deserve respect.
Yup. This is us. And I have never felt more sure of who we are called to be.