There’s this triad of womanhood I’ve been digging into for nearly a decade. Becoming a mother helped me become more aware of my compassion for those who are without basic needs. I was reminded of moments of my childhood when I was hungry. It wasn’t my own hunger in adulthood, but the sweet cherub face of my firstborn son that made me fall head over heart for anyone who might have to tell their own child that there isn’t enough to eat that day. I was hooked on the kindness of compassion.
It was late as Nathan and I made the decision to give up everything we had built for ourselves to go all in on the dream of full time farming that my motherhood and heart for justice came full circle. It was an overwhelming time made easier by the people who showed up in support and encouragement for those of us without power, without family names or prestige.
Jeanie Smith is one of those people.
She showed up at meetings, babies in tow, laid out on blankets on the floor next to the executive business tables and power points and people in authority. Jeanie showed up and listened. I was the mama and the farmer in the room. She had no reason to look to me for kmowledge and wisdom except that she believed that if food and farming were concerned why not go to the mamas and farmers for answers.
Not only did Jeanie show up to meetings and listen, but she followed up with action. She fed the hungry, the homeless. She visited the farm and asked how she could help.
I became a farmer.
Then, Jeanie looked around and asked herself what she could do and realized that teaching was her calling. We’ve all seen her commitment to the education system and teachers and been inspired, but I’ve been sitting on the sidelines moved by her courage and commitment.
A food system meeting, 2013.
As a “lay” person, mama and farmer, I can tell you that Jeanie is hear to listen to us. She cares about hunger. She cares about opportunity like my dear friend Amanda who wanted to provide for herself with her handmade tamales years ago. She is inspired by the hard work farmers put in year after year. She cares about the food system and the health of our communities. She wants opportunities for women and children like good birth options, healthy food, education, and art.
Jeanie supporting me in the Farm Food Planner, 2017.
Time and time again Jeanie Smith has shown up in support of the creativity and passion in my work as a mama and farmer. That’s what I’m doing in return for her. Jeanie is a mama and teacher. She’s choosing politics as a creative way to take her love for our community to the next level of maturity. Let’s circle around her, friends. She needs us and we need her.
I’ll honest that I feel a bit self conscious with this ask, but it just makes me realize how bold and courageous my friend Jeanie is in her work. We need to empower women in this way.