Dirty Feet, Happy Heart
Contributed by Kristina Komorowski
Imagine with me a little girl in a white sundress, sitting on her great-grandmother's porch. Now, follow this little girl as she stands up and walks through the screen door into the house. She walks innocently around and in-between the grown-up’s legs and pensively around the knobby feet of the large armchairs that are scattered around the house. She stops and turns her attention to a brown wispy bundle on the table. She carefully and suspiciously picks it up, making sure the adults do not see. The smell meets her nostrils before the strange bundle does. Curing onions. Beautiful golden bulbs, flaky and speckled with soil.
I was a rebel, or at least I liked to think of myself as one. I turned away from college life, wanting to be free of the obligation to study day in and day out, choosing to fulfill my life with music, parties and as little responsibility as possible. Like most of us do, I eventually realized that I had to settle down and start behaving like an adult. I worked retail and then an office job and finally settled nicely into the role of mother. When asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up (in the back of my head, at least) the answer was always the same: A mom! I quickly realized after having two beautiful boys that my dream job wasn't the calling I had thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom and I adore my children but it didn't give me that feeling like I'd finally opened the door and found what I had been looking for.
I became so deeply wrapped up in putting my family before myself that I saw my personal goals become even more distant. I did this for so long that my closest of friends encouraged me to get a hobby. I remember distinctly sitting with a glass of wine in my hand and tears in my eyes crying, “What am I supposed to do?!”
I'll never forget the day I discovered my calling. It was the type of moment where life stands still and if you don’t pay attention to the sign, you could easily miss it. I was hurriedly unloading groceries fully aware of the clock ticking towards dinner time and I grabbed a few onions to toss into our vegetable bowl.The smell stopped me in my tracks. As I lifted the crunchy sweet bulbs to my nose and inhaled ever so deeply, I was immediately brought back to my inner little girl wearing the white sundress smelling great-grandmother's cured onions. Couldn’t I grow these? Shouldn’t I grow these? Surely I can grow these. The thoughts ran rampant. I excitedly began opening this door. I searched for various gardening techniques online, I purchased a few books and read countless blogs about urban gardening. It wasn’t enough for me. I needed more.
I decided to start small, taking a few months of classes through The OSU Master Gardener program. Luck had it that my youngest son was sick the day they presented the vegetable growing portion of the course, so I experimented with the knowledge I read from our handbook, and soon began growing food out of raised beds my husband built. I quickly found out that I got more pleasure sharing what I grew with my friends and neighbors than I had ever imagined was possible. I could hear my passion about the plants when people would ask me basic gardening questions or how I grew my own food. Something was happening and I wanted to continue exploring this new found love. I began to find more farming and gardening books in the free boxes around town, I began following masters in the industry on social networking sites and by reading University publications. I found myself so flooded with accessible knowledge that I needed to hone in my new craft. I knew that I could read sun up to sun down but because that required time that most mother’s do not have, I decided instead to take the plunge and ask for help. I recognized that by putting in the time now this new passion of growing food would likely benefit my family, my community and my soul for a lifetime.
Today, I am a student of the Beginning Urban Farming Apprenticeship program which is a part time farming program that teaches adults the beginning elements of food production. I am confident that I have found my calling! Despite the current Portland heat wave this summer, I’ve been proudly and happily digging, sweating, harvesting, watering, and knowing that my efforts will soon pay off. I’ve cried on the farm numerous times, allowing the soil to absorb the pain of the busy world. Being connected to the soil brings me to this state of tranquility that only those who’ve dug in the earth can really understand. The soil is a healer and not only of the body and mind, but of the soul. It brings out your angels and demons. It will make you feel strong and it shows you your weaknesses. Listening to the bees hum, the leaves rustle, my breath as it exits and enters my body, the groans of pain and the cheers of excitement over a newly harvestable food source is what makes my soul come alive. I am a totally different person in the elements. I have found a new side of myself that I never knew existed. I am powerful and yet weak, open, vulnerable, humble and thankful. Working with men and women who share the same goals only intensifies my experience. I am beyond grateful for being able to be a part of a community where we all ache for the ability to share our food and knowledge with the people around us.
I want to share this journey with everyone I meet. It was the soil that helped me see what my gifts are. I am a nurturer. I nurture the soil, I nurture my children, and I will forever continue to nurture my soul.
Trust your inner voice, your inner child. Stay inspired and honor your gifts. Lastly I encourage you to ground yourself daily. Go stick your hands in the dirt.
I dare you.
“The Meaning of Life is to find your gift. The Purpose of life is to give it away.” -William Shakespeare
Kristina Komorowski is a Texas native who moved to Illinois after high school. She fell in love with a Polish man and together in the Winter of 2010 they created a home in Portland Oregon. They have 2 beautiful children in SE Portland and dream of life on a small farm. They love everything nature and get great joy in sharing their rich bounty.
Kristina is currently a student of the Beginning Urban Farming Apprenticeship program. See more at their website to learn more:http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/beginning-famers/BUFA
If you would like to follow their journey look for Kristina on Instagram: @Mamakomorowski or send her an email: email@example.com