by Nate Rogers
The months that led up to my arrest were filled with despair and anguish. My perspective on life was on the verge of nihilism—it seemed meaningless.
So how did I end up at Just Roots? While I was in the Minimum Security Facility at the Franklin County House of Correction, most of my days were spent with a community service work crew. The rest of my time was devoted to endless questions: Where will I live? What will I do for work? Is school a possibility? There were no clear answers in sight. Then in April, I heard of a new opportunity: working on a nearby farm in return for credits from Greenfield Community College. Several of us soon wrote essays and waited anxiously to hear back after the interviews were completed. When I was accepted, I immediately formed a mental image of what it would be like and I was eager to start.
Having worked now a couple of months at the Greenfield Community Farm, I can see how this place has come to mean more to me than I first expected. Just Roots has given me a direction that I can follow and a foundation that I can build upon. As an inmate, one feels worthless to society. Who would want to hire someone with a criminal background? I think this social “norm” has prevented many capable persons from getting a job. Without income, the stage has been set for a return visit back to jail. Desperation leads to desperate actions.
Thankfully, my situation is different. I now have built myself a small resume and gained experience in farming. I can see the doors Just Roots has opened for my future.
There is a family atmosphere at Just Roots. I have built relationships over sweltering hot days and occasional flooding rains. I have learned to overcome the difficulties that may arise and to chuckle at the struggles. The people I work alongside are helpful, considerate, and truly love what they are doing, even though some days are spent cursing the weather, or the bountiful bugs. It is a community you must experience firsthand.
I never thought that I would be a part of something with a goal like Just Roots—to provide easy access to naturally grown foods as well as fellowship with others who share the same mission. It feels good to know that the sweat I put into the field puts food on someone’s plate. It has made me aware of the importance of healthy living and making that a possibility for someone else. I am now part of a community of people who want to share the simple pleasures of the land.
We all need to spend some time in the garden. Just like the weeds we pull to give plants their freedom, we must weed the problems in our lives so that the good within us can blossom.