I will freely admit I am a bit salty about Farmer in the Westtown Dell’s latest post. The message is clear even if that is not actually her intent: if you aren’t with her, you’re against her. So is it you can only worship, you CANNOT raise or voice concerns about how things look (you know like the mowing issues), and you can’t say anything else? If you do, is there a shade of shade of inference none too subtly that anyone who has anything other than glowing praise and accolades is a racist?
Come on, really?
See this Instagram post from 2 days ago:
So yes I wrote a post about the way the place formerly known as Pete’s Produce looked. And this was after an email blast to her followers came out. And by her I am referring to Westtown’s New Farmer in the Dell, Ms. Barfield.
That email hit a bad chord in me. I felt as if those of us expressing concern were being chided for expressing valid concerns about how everything looked. Lady, it’s called communication and that is not necessarily one and the same as an Instagram post is it?
So I wrote about it and how I felt. It’s my right is it not? I was not being racist. But I had people saying I was and messages that were vile.
So let’s back up (again.) When they first announced Ms. Barfield was the new farmer, I was welcoming with a couple of basic questions – essentially concerning the Pete’s workers who had worked that farm for in some cases, years, and would she be hiring any of them. Here verbatim is what I said at the time (December 9, 2022) :
I welcome a new farmer to continue the tradition of Pete on this land. BUT with Pete, retiring, a lot of his workers are now unemployed, so I hope since so many of them worked so hard for him for so many years that this new farmer will adopt some of his workers as hers. What I am hearing Westtown School is that might not be so?
Truthfully, I thought it was kind of cool initially when she was chosen because she was a female farmer. I did not object to the switch to organic farming, but I will still repeat what I initially said because I know organic farmers: it is a BIG process. Going organic and getting organic certification is a lot of hoops, and expensive. I also noted it doesn’t happen overnight.
These are a sampling of the 250 comments on the Instagram post that I found distasteful:
BUT I have a huge problem with the way I feel those of us out here who are essentially being told we are racists because we asked what was going on over there and can anyone understand this? That is wrong. I am not a racist and I have read through all of the 277 comments (or that was how many at last count.) Just because someone is not your race and says “hey I don’t like something happening” that is not racist. People aren’t saying because she is a black farmer or even a female farmer that she is bad or can’t do the job. They are also NOT saying she shouldn’t own farm land. Out here specifically people were referring to how run down parts of the property looked because the freaking weeds weren’t cut along the sides of the road leading into the market area. Sometimes things are just about what people say. Sometime it’s not more or bad or wrong.
People did try to have a conversation about this on this Instagram post. Like one lady said and I quote:
I find what bothers me the most is that conventional farmers such as Pete and others are made to sound as if they are horrible stewards of the earth. I wish you the best but please respect all farming practices. There’s nothing unhealthy about the soil on that farm.
One of the replies this person received was horrible. She was told she had white logic essentially and what the offensive same hell does she mean? Just like the subsequent comment to someone else asking about “your species”? I am sorry was this person an alien?
And then there are the locals who feel they have to literally suck up and say that they are so sorry everyone is so negative and change doesn’t come easily and please forgive everyone for the negativity. The negativity is primarily coming from the supporters of Farmer Jawn. And yes, I agree change doesn’t come easily. But it’s all about how the change is presented.
Let’s review: when Westtown first announced the new farmer of that land people were excited. The land would stay farmed and not become a crop of cheap plastic mushroom houses. Then it was nothing really, including the weeds which didn’t get cut for months. That made people wonder and worry, myself included. I was not racist on my comments and am not a racist but yeah I am damn straight going to react to words like raggedy. And when I have never made the race or sex of this farmer (or any other farmer) an issue, why is she saying that is why people are asking questions?
Newsflash, Ms. Barfield, people asked questions and had understandable concerns considering how well tended the land had been by the last steward of the land even if he wasn’t organic. I will note he wasn’t exactly a straight Round Up farmer, either. He was just a conventional farmer, not organic. But for what it is worth conventional farmers I know do employ a lot of organic practices even if they do not have the organic official status because of the expense of becoming certified organic. This farmer could have played this straight and allayed fears people had. But she really has not in my opinion. And that is why I am finding this Instagram you did offensive to those of us who live here.
And that is the thing of it: you are the new steward of the land but you are unknown except for your social media out here in the community you are entering into. And you have kind of been putting this combative vibe out there. It’s not warranted. Life is difficult enough at times without that. Just because I am white doesn’t make me a bad person does it? So why would you assume I judged you by the color of your skin? I didn’t. And I won’t.
Ms. Barfield. I do not have a problem with either your mission or your vision. I do still wonder if the Westtown land will be too much and too expensive for you long term, but that isn’t wishing you ill or implying you can’t do it. I am not slamming you as a female farmer of any creed or color. What I have a problem with is anyone implying folks have a racial angle if they ask questions about your Westtown farming. That will not engender good will in the community you wish to be a part of.
Farming like gardening is kind of like life, especially when you are cultivating. Because lady, people require cultivation too. I was planning to show up and support you when you announced your August 18th opening. I was happy to hear this. But then came your Raggedyness post on Instagram and those comments. Now, I will get there when I get there.
My business in particular doesn’t matter a hill of beans, and I know that, but what I am saying that may resonate, is that if we had questions or reservations at all, are we really actually welcome as potential customers?
A customer wants to feel welcomed. That’s a pretty simple tenet of customer service.
Ms. Barfield, FarmerJawn, I wish you the best, but I am never one who will mince words when something strikes me as wrong or unfair.
Wishing you all peace.