Then the Lord God formed adam from the dust of the ground, and breathed into adam’s nostrils the breath of life; and the adam became a living being.
“I just love the feeling of having dirt on my hands.”
I’ve heard some iteration of this comment many times in our first two months of farming here at Maggie’s. If there is a common thread that links our diverse and dynamic class of student farmers together, it’s our love of putting our hands in fertile soil. So far, we have celebrated this love by testing our soil, harvesting cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and potatoes from it, and by simply holding it in our hands and appreciating how marvelously full of life and possibility it is.
In one of my favorite stories from the Hebrew Bible, God creates the first human being from nothing but “the dust of the ground.” The word for “ground” or “dirt” in ancient Hebrew is adamah. In Hebrew, the original word for “man”—especially in the non-gendered, general sense of “humankind”—is adam.
The first human wasn’t a gendered man or a woman so much as a ground being. An earth-ling. Humans are, at their purest essence, the combination of God’s inbreathed image and dirt.
We are creatures of soil and soul.
I believe that’s why farming feels so natural, and even spiritual, to many of us here at the Farm School: to return to the ground is to remember our creation, to remember our essence as creatures of both ground and spirit, to remember the substance from which we come—and that continues to sustain us.
Perhaps there’s a reason that we describe experiences that make us feel centered and whole as grounding, or metaphorically name the process of settling into a certain place as putting down roots.
We STUFAs (Student Farmers) came to Maggie’s Farm for a multitude of reasons: to start a career in organic farming, to homestead with our spouses and children, to work towards greater environmental sustainability in our communities…the list goes on.
But if there’s something that unites us, it is a deep sense that to come back to the earth, back to the land, brings us back to ourselves in some way. That to find our way forward in life, we have to return to the place that sustains life for all humans: the ground under our feet.