WHAT IS IN A NAME? The Story Behind the Many Graces Farm Name

Last week I had the pleasure of watching my neighbors' dog, Zadie, while my neighbors traveled to California for a week. While I was walking Zadie the dog one sunny afternoon a few days ago, I was chatting with my mom on the phone, as we are inclined to do whenever either one of us is dog walking. Zadie is a curious dog, and a puppy, and so like all babies wants to put everything in her mouth. Literally. What this looked like was her essentially trying to eat any piece of litter she came across in our path. So, being the good dog caregiver that I am, I was gently scolding her as she picked up a giant ziplock baggie of yellow and congealed God-knows-what. And because I was on the phone, my mom asked me what was happening and I said, "Ugh, Zadie is trying to eat every piece of detritus she can get her mouth on!" My mom instantly started laughing. Hard. That kind of laugh where you can tell she's losing her breath a little. The stomach hurting kind. She asked me with glee and fervor, "what does DETRITUS mean?!" And so I told her: "garbage; litter; something discarded and left to waste." She loved it. She asked me how to spell it and I knew that when she asked that, that she was also walking to retrieve her "book." Every time my mom learns a new word that she finds joy in, she writes it down, meaning and all, in a book she keeps on the table at the arm of the couch in her living room. I love this about her. And because of her book and all of these years of collecting words, her vocabulary is pretty impressive. Sometimes I will receive little notes in the mail from her with simply a new word that she loves, along with its meaning. We share this love of words and always have. I can recall countless conversations with her where we just geeked out about words--looking up their etymology and crafting wild sentences in which to use them. She was particularly taken with Sir Walter Scott's novel, Waverly, that I read some pages from to her over the phone last month. Lots of great vocabulary in those 19th-century novels... 

I share all of this with you because it was my mother's love and penchant for words that lead to the Many Graces Farm name. Last October, as my second season was winding down, and after my mom, sister and I worked for 36 hours designing all of the florals for a beautiful and large wedding at Mass MOCA in western Massachusetts (and having SO much fun doing it!), we were driving to visit my Nana in Buffalo, NY for the weekend. As we drove, we were talking and brainstorming a lot about the flowers. We knew that my flower farm endeavor was growing, and fast. And we also knew that it was something that I loved and found much joy in doing. And so, we began to consider if season three would, in fact, be the right time for me break off from under the Next Barn Over Farm umbrella and take the big step to start my own flower farm; and if it was the right time, what would the farm's name be? And so, with that, we started brainstorming potential names. I was really coming up short--nothing that I thought of felt "right." And so my mom started asking me questions--"how do you feel about working with the flowers and with the land?" and "why do you love the work?" I replied by painting her a picture of sorts. I told her what I loved, and what I love is this:

I love heading out into the field in the mornings. Even in July sometimes the mornings are cool--foggy--misty. I'm wearing layers--a t-shirt, a long sleeved button up, sometimes rain pants if it's a particularly dewey morning. And I have my buckets of water sloshing in the back of the truck, ready to do the job of holding all of the flowers. And then that sound--all of the water splashing and slapping. And I drive down the hill slowly; the overgrown sumac hugs the tops and sides of the truck like car-wash brushes, urging us on toward the field. And then we get there. We take a sharp right turn so as to stay alongside the edge of the field, and I see the bees around their apiary towers and I hear the rustle of the resident turkeys who sometimes fly up into the abutting trees to perch and make sure there aren't any dogs with us that morning who might chase them; and then I see the field all dew and glisten in the sun just as it emerges over the right side of the tree line; all of the flowers in their myriad colors just starting to stretch out into the day; and I park the truck and my feet hit the ground and I walk alongside the milky oats that were planted for cover crop and feel the way they feel against my legs so lithe and feathery; and all of the birds are there, too, in their chorus of sound and everything is peaceful and also ablaze in the energy of morning, and I stand amazed-- in reverence of all of this existing out here--so sturdy and alive and tenacious; and I feel for a moment how much wisdom there is in it all and how lucky I am for this moment of silent communion before the day's work begins...

I said something like that to my mom on our drive up to Buffalo and she paused for a moment after listening and looked at me. And with an assured and steady softness to her voice she said, "You love the 'many graces' of the work. 'Many Graces' is the farm's name." There was a silence that hung in the air in that moment as if all the clutter had been cleared away and a bell had been rung. We both knew that she was right. I looked at her and said, "Yes. That's it." And so, thanks to my dear mom's constant searching for words, her reverence for language, and her keen intuition, the Many Graces name was decided on in the matter of ten minutes.

Thank you, Mom, for your always pithy and original word-smithing. I certainly learned from the best of them. <3

photo of Mom, 2017