October 25, 2018

We cannot change the world, but if we are fortunate and attentive enough, we can affect the worlds that we encounter. Even more profound is that each world that we encounter has the potential to change our own. In 2012, we were farming vegetables, much like had been for the previous seven years. We decided to hire a couple of interns to help us out in the summer.  While 2012 was the year where we experienced a terrible drought that almost ended our farming experiment, we survived and brought those interns back the next season.

For two more years, we hired more people each year. Sometimes different people would work here, but one of those original interns came back each season, Matthew Walthius. In 2014, we offered him our first full-time year-round position as our farm manager when he graduated from college. He accepted, and our farm has changed as a result of his five years of leadership in that role. Many of you have met him or know him well, and everyone has felt his influence, including me.

His agronomy knowledge has helped make our farm more secure, and many employees owe him gratitude for his ability to train and mentor them. In addition, he as served as a trusted adviser on all matters related to the farm. He has overseen large projects like the transition to grow tomatoes in high tunnels, the installation of our irrigation infrastructure, and developing plant health plans that ensured better yields and healthier crops. He has written grants for us, and is quite possibly the best thing to happen to our farm since it started.

It is with some degree of sadness and at least as much joy that we bid farewell to Matt. Matt is leaving us at the end of the season to pursue other avenues in his young life. We are sad, because there is always sadness in transitions, but our sadness is a testament to the positive significance of our world intersecting with his for the past 7 years. During that time, we have had the privilege of watching a young man mature. Matt always had it in him to be the person he is, but it has been a privilege to provide the fertile soil for him to grow. I find myself looking back at the pictures over the years of the farm, and they make me smile.

I see a young man who played with my grandchildren and other children on the farm, barely an adult himself. That young man then grew into a mentor who many people looked up to. He became part of our family, and in the process affected us all in a positive way. I mentioned earlier about encounters that change us. I believe that it is possible that I may have given up on farming in 2012 and even subsequent years had I not experienced the hope of the future through Matt. He gave me a gift by allowing me to see the future of farming through the eyes of its future. In addition, he became my friend and a member of our family.

Most lines are not exactly parallel. We are all on our own trajectory, and when we are fortunate, our trajectories may intersect for a while. We all serve a higher purpose, our own divine purpose, but when our lines intersect, we have an opportunity to change each other for a while. It is now time for Matt to pursue the trajectory that he has been on his whole life. Susan and I were lucky enough to travel beside him for a while as our paths crossed. Perhaps they will again, but until then, we wish him joy on his journey. Even as his life takes him to his destined purpose, he will leave behind his impact and influence on a farm that will continue along its path, altered significantly and positively by its encounter with another soul.

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