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Meet the Crew: Maddie!

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Maddie is a brilliant poet, friend, community organizer, activist, teacher, student, bowtie wearer and sweet potato lover.

Friends, meet Maddie!

Hopefully you’ll see them here on the farm one day…

…and in the meantime, here is just a tiny taste of why we love them so, so very much.

We met Maddie in the summer of 2016 and immediately loved the joyful creativity, the insatiable curiosity and the deliciously poetic ways Maddie finds the fun (and puns) in everything. Maddie has visited as a dear friend too many times to count, always helping in ways both little and large, sometimes for a few seconds and once even for a full growing season here on the farm. We have Maddie to thank for much of our courage to ask big questions and not feel alone and here is one of their poems, a tanka, an anthem for our love and becoming:

They tell me not to

make mountains out of molehills

but I just don’t know

how to start if not molelike,

mounding bits of silt toward sky.

Maddie, what are your favorite ways of saying ‘thank you’?

Jars of semi-labeled fermented curiosities; late-night love poems; seeds and seedlings; learning to say ‘thank you’ in all the languages beloved beings speak (nyaweh, adank, twalumba, gracias, merci, twatotela, arigato, hvala…); snail mail; compost, mystery porch bouquets; and a cup of tea.

When did you first garden?

I probably owe my parents an apology, but growing up they had a garden in our backyard in Ithaca, NY and I just remember relating to that place as a chore that I honestly wasn’t particularly into. In my late teens and early 20s I started being really curious about plants and seeds, but felt like I didn’t really know how to relate to them. I spent a few years around a lot of other people who were very experienced gardeners and farmers and I think for a while I was comparing myself and feeling like those things weren’t part of my identity. But somewhere along the line I stopped overthinking it and just let myself love and learn about plants day by day. I followed my feet to all the plant-y places I’ve had the privilege of being in the last few years and… here we are, always learning.

How do you love tomatoes?

I love eating them on pizza, on open face egg sandwiches, or while standing around plants with friends, casually popping cherry tomatoes off the plant and into our own open faces. 

But I also truly cherish the process of transplanting tomatoes.  I have a habit of wholeheartedly jumping into things that are way outside my comfort zone, so I get a lot of inspiration from how you can almost totally bury them and they find a way to transform their whole core into a root system that makes them that much more resilient as they grow.

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Here’s Maddie trellising tomatoes at Fruition in 2016

What one thing do you wish all people knew about seeds?

A lot of people do know this, but simply put seeds are lifemagic, they are our history embodied, living, breathing, sometimes waiting for hundreds of years to be loved back awake, and they can teach us so much about transformation. 

Also, though, real talk: I wish everybody understood the ways that U.S. companies set, promote, and put pressure globally for other countries to accept policies that lead to massively undermining robust and beautiful peasant seed systems for the sake of profit-izing seed. (There’s plenty of people who know this too, I’m just assuming that most people reading this page will be living in the U.S., and here in particular I think there’s a long way to go to take responsibility for our role in those systems… let’s get on it <3.)

Is there a quote/poem that is particularly meaningful for you right now?

Some poets whose words I love – Sarah Kay, Andrea Gibson, Ariana Brown, Ross Gay. A line that is rattling my heart since I heard it is Ariana Brown’s “we need new origins countries are killing everyone I love” from the book “We Are Owed”.

How did you first connect with Fruition?

In the summer of 2016 I connected the dots and realized that this awesome seed company that was coming up in some of my learnings about seed systems was the same awesome seed company that aaron, a dear-friend-who-is-family had mentioned his biologically-distant cousin had co-founded. aaron wrote me an email introduction to Matthew and Petra and I came out to visit that July. I brought a homemade fermented blueberry soda to share, toured the farm, helped pack some seed packets, and basically asked Petra whether or not she thought biodiversity on this planet was DOOMED, and other fun questions. 

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That’s Maddie on the left with Heron in the middle and Sarah on the right, just prior to planting 20+ apple trees at Fruition in 2021.

What is your work at Fruition making possible/nourishing in you? What is it making possible/nourishing in the world?

In the narrow sense, I like to think that being back at Fruition and in this role is helping to… 

  • bring to life more beautiful plants/plant relationships/care/nourishment/compost/etc into communities around us
  • deepening my personal grounding with plants, the farm, plant rhythms, getting to talk about seeds, being in more conversations and practices that make me re-engage with the joy and politics of plant breeding and seed keeping, etc.
  • more time I get to spend at Fruition with people I love who welcome me and all I’m bringing from organizing work.

Beyond Fruition, I hope that it also makes possible:

  • more care, attention, resources going into good things happening in seed systems with the way that Fruition is working toward redistributing, supporting others in seed sovereignty work, etc.
  • time, flexibility (being part time and semi-remote), and a relatively straightforward paid work life that gives me the heartspace and enables me to better show up in in a lot of spaces as a friend/community organizer – being in messy relationships with people building a lot of beautiful struggles.

Maddie, we love you!

We love growing by your side, asking and feeling, living and loving the big and hard and beautiful questions…

…and we look so forward to how seeds will continue to grow us all ~

Sow Seeds & Sing Songs,

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& the whole Fruition crew

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