We have become, by the power of a glorious evolutionary accident called intelligence, the stewards of life’s continuity on earth. We did not ask for this role, but we cannot abjure it. We may not be suited to it, but here we are.
— Stephen Jay Gould

Have you heard the one about the married couple living on a convent? No? Well that's where this story begins.

Picture it. St. Mary-of-the-Woods. 2014. Fresh off of selling nearly everything we owned, we moved into a convent for a year to learn about sustainable farming. Apparently, not all nuns wear habits. Some wear Carhartts.


The White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, started by the Sisters of Providence, has spent over 20 years teaching about how to care for all creation by teaching how to care for the land.

I'm not sure there is a better way to commune with nature than to grow food naturally, eat it fresh from the land, and have it nourish your entire being.

So, naturally--or rather unnaturally--humans, in our infinite lack of wisdom, have done everything in our power to fracture this life sustaining relationship with our food. We use poisonous chemicals to kill everything around what we're growing. We break the genetic code of our crops. We have giant, artificially-lit buildings to house our supposed bounty. And we've collectively convinced ourselves that this is normal. It's not. It's a tragically broken system that is coming apart at the seams and revealing its horde of flaws.

Fortunately, on small plots of land across the country and across the globe, small farmers have been quietly fighting back against this harmful approach to food and land stewardship. But their voices are getting louder and more numerous. They are becoming legion.

Nestled in a picturesque corner of far-western Indiana, a training ground for these voices exists in the White Violet Center.

To appreciate the gift that is our planet, you have to immerse yourself in its life cycles. Work outside in the pouring rain. Sweat so much that you have to change your shirt three times in a single day. Get dirt under your fingernails that no amount of scrubbing, only time, can remove.

I can't tell you how exciting it is to grow food from seed; to see a tiny sprout break the ground and start its ascent toward the sun. It's difficult to put into words how energizing it is to be covered in mud. Words can't explain the enormous sense of pride you have at harvest. These are feelings and experiences that even the great poets have tried in vain to put into words. It's intoxicating, and it forever calls you back.

These are things I've learned because of my time spent at the White Violet Center. Without the guidance of our farm family, I might have never known my full potential, nor the potential of my species. We can make this a better planet. We can fix what we've broken. Frankly, we have no choice.

So here we are, a few years later and a few years older, spending one more fulfilling day back on the farm that we called home for a year. Volunteering a little of our time and labors, and as usual, the arrangement gives us the best of the bargain.