In the spring of 2014, I checked off one of the final, most important tasks on my “to-do” list in becoming a successful adult- I graduated college. It was a very exciting time for me and for my parents who had worked really hard to provide me with all the resources to accomplish this much anticipated goal. Within weeks, I landed a job working in my field and was well on my way towards a steady career.
It wasn’t long before life became routine and comfortable and it terrified me. Was this it? I spent so many years fantasizing how life would play out in the “real world” and now that my dreams were in sync with reality, I was fatigued and unmoved. I spent so much time following direction, listening and preparing for adulthood and “success” by definition of others that I never gave myself the opportunity to figure out what it was that I really wanted. Though thankful for my abundance, I yearned for more. I wanted to experience life by my own definitions, gain meaning and depth and explore the boundaries of my unique being. It was time for me to call the shots. I was ready for a change.
Mindlessly scrolling the internet one day at work, I remembered a conversation with a girl I met on a recent spontaneous trip to Taiwan. She spoke to me about an organization called WWOOF, a work-trade program that connects volunteers to organic farmers around the world, she had been traveling for about half a year, farming in Australia, South East Asia and the States. Curious to learn more, I signed up and started contacting farms. I didn’t know anything about farming, but my excitement for something completely new outweighed all my doubts and fears. If I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone, I needed to act boldly. A few months later, with a couple of paychecks in my pocket, I quit my job and began my journey.
In August, I was at my first host farm pruning grape vines at an off-the-grid vineyard in the depths of Montezuma Canyon in Southern Utah. Days were long, but rewarding. There was something so undeniably satisfying about working the Earth with my hands. I was learning so much through conversation, through nature and through the newfound relationship I was developing with myself.
I spent the next few months on the road, completely guided by fate and intuition, making friends and farm hopping through the states, from Utah to Oregon. In the spring of 2015, I landed on a small family farm on Kauai, Hawaii. My initial two month stay, extended to three and with the blink of an eye, I’d spent nearly half the year tending to the lush, fertile soils of the Garden Island. I was totally in love. In love with the liberty I felt growing healthy food, in love with the deep connection I cultivated with the land and in love with the feeling of being “uncomfortable.” I was thousands of miles away from Florida yet somehow, I felt at home.
I returned to Florida at the end of the year to spend the holidays with my family and to announce that I’d be making a move back to Kauai, but this time, to set roots. I had a unique opportunity to tend to a small lot of land with my partner and put into play all I had learned about farming and working closely with the land. The idea was to live off the land, grow our own food and live as free and sustainable as possible. And, we did so. Within a few months, we turned a patch of overgrown buffalo grass into our magical dwelling space nestled between the mountains and the sea. We were growing, eating and sharing food from our very own garden.
The more I gardened, the more obsessed I became with food. Food wasn’t just something I ate, it became a part of me. When I wasn’t in the garden, I was researching all there was to know about it. The more I studied, the more I learned about our disconnection from food, how industrialization had taken us away from knowing real food, how harmful modern day agriculture techniques were to our planet and the lack of awareness our society had with knowing where food came from. I couldn't believe how disconnected we’d become to something so imperative to our existence, the very thing that fuels us and gives us life. I was ignited and unequivocally inspired to bridge that gap. This was it. I found what I unknowingly had set out to seek just three years ago. Growing food became my passion and I was pulled to share it with the world.
So today, I enjoy my last few months on Kauai, preparing for my next journey, one that will bring me back home to South Florida, where I plan to develop a local food system within my community, where the people and the land can reunite and foster a relationship that was lost long ago.
If I could share one final thing it would be: when that guiding light of intuition shines, don’t back off, follow and explore it. Change is scary I’ll admit, but so is fear. Fear is only crippling. Begin by creating the intention of trusting your intuition, don’t ever ignore this aspect of yourself and I promise it will guide you to the happiest, most fulfilled side of you that you’ve ever met. Your soul knows, go on, live boldly.