Last week, we shared the first part of our interview with Jen Salinetti, a community vegetable grower and educator in the Berkshires who owns and operates the vegetable CSA Woven Roots Farm with her husband, Pete. Jen described her passion for farming and explained the journey of developing Woven Roots Farm. Make sure to check out the interview and Jen’s extremely inspiring Tedx Talk, here.
In the second part of our interview, Jen shares her sources of inspiration, describes the power of relating to nature, and explains how the development of Woven Roots has affected her life.
ASGT: What are your sources of inspiration and what resources do you draw on to guide your decisions?
Jen Salinetti: I would have to say one of my leading sources of inspiration is our community. It’s our neighbors and our friends that are repeatedly expressing their gratitude for what we’re doing. Even things as simple as passing someone on the street and having a little exchange, things as simple as a thank you have really spurred us on and have encouraged us to do more and more for our community. Even though we have really great relationships with the businesses and individuals that we wholesale with, I think that the direct community involvement has shifted everything for us. Anytime that we question what we’re doing this for, something inevitably comes back at us that just confirms that what we’re doing is actually making a difference in someone’s life. And certainly seeing my children and their presence in the world and within our family structure has been an absolute source of inspiration. Everyday I get to meet them eye-to-eye and we give each other this exchange of understanding and compassion toward our world.
But my truest source of inspiration comes from nature. Every day, I breathe nature in. I make a point to observe and participate and feel connected to this incredible world that we live in. When there is weather that is challenging (such as high winds), I pause to consider, "What needs to move in my life?" I acknowledge and express gratitude for the season, the moment, or the day and I choose to let it guide me. When I relate to nature, I can relate to myself without judgment or expectation, knowing that the day will unfold exactly as it is meant to. This momentary pause brings me great comfort, understanding and connection, something that I didn't realize I could have until I started to listen.
ASGT: How has the development of Woven Roots Farm affected you, personally?
JS: I think that I have developed this deeper understanding of myself and I certainly have more pride and acceptance of myself than I’ve ever had before. The more I understand that I am a part of the greater whole of the universe, the more I feel good about what I’m doing. I feel like it’s so easy to get so caught up in the incredible amount of negativity and disease that is happening in this world. And I certainly have fallen into that rhythm myself; I’ll go through cycles of being really focused on the news and I have to just shut it off. And I think about, how is this information contributing to me right now? And what is it that I can do right now, in this moment to make myself, and ultimately others, better? And I really feel like it is so empowering to be able to put that negativity aside and to accept that every action that we take in a positive way is ultimately having an effect.
That is something that I’m really fully stepping into, and I love it. I love the opportunity to wake up everyday and to be able to set my course, to be able to make these choices, and be a contributing member of our society. I think that just ultimately ripples into everything in my life. Do I do it right in my life all the time? No, absolutely not. But I can look at those times when I’m not doing it right, and I can actually observe it, apologize for it, acknowledge it, and grow from it. I didn’t necessarily see that before, and I think that being able to witness the flexibility and the strength of plants and seeing what they’re willing to endure and adapt to, is just totally inspiring for my life.
ASGT: What advice would you give to other people who are trying to follow their passions and best help society in a way that is personal to them?
JS: I would encourage people to breathe deep and breathe into this world. Step fully into every day and every breath and take a moment, if not many moments, to pause and to acknowledge the connections that we have. Be willing to meet people eye-to-eye and be willing to meet yourself eye-to-eye and to really believe that every little step that we take, every breath, every action has a ripple effect and we have a choice as to what that ripple will be in the world. Allow your participation in life to be meaningful, no matter how small and know that your contribution is not just something, but everything.