By Elora Overbey, Phase I Fellow
If I looked to identify a theme from this whole six-month experience, it would be the act of coming full circle--completing a cycle and returning to the beginning. I think this is because we are living so close to nature and are immersed in the natural rhythms and cycles of the seasons passing by. We see circles in our focus on seasonal eating, observations of the timing for planting and harvest, and the subtle shifts of nature after being in the forest each day.
I came to the AMI Fellowship not knowing where to begin in my goal of helping to improve food access in my hometown of Lynchburg, where 30% of the city is considered a food desert. After moving back home, an awareness of the privilege I’ve had with food, nutrition, and access to nature, hit me for the first time. I needed a toolkit to bring to the table, to try and approach these issues. As we enter our sixth month of being on the mountain, I feel the toolkit filling up and my mind getting heavy with the anticipation of returning home, of trying and sharing these tools with friends and family.
During this experience, I’ve returned to Lynchburg occasionally on weekends to visit with family and friends. As we catch up and talk about what’s been happening in our lives, I find conversations rooting in topics we had never discussed before, such as my grandpa covering-cropping his land to help build organic matter, or friends turning their yards into gardens that are exploding with ten different kinds of peppers, or learning about new books on food justice and access, and making plans for collaboration when I return to Lynchburg after my Phase I Fellowship, and later from my Phase II Fellowship. It makes me so deeply happy to see how this experience has brought more of these conversations into my life and how it has given me ways to help share the bounty of what I’ve learned this season with people I deeply love, people who were not able to go through this experience with me.
If this experience has taught me one thing, it’s that our past experiences, skills, habits, and patterns find ways to circle back in on each other with each rotation of the Earth. I think the main challenge we are given in this life is tuning in to how these loops affect us and where we are in our journey--to then harness and utilize past experiences to propel us forward, instead of allowing them to bring us down.
As this last cycle comes to a close, we find ourselves coming full circle as we wake up to see the frost kissing the morning grass, and the trees unveiling their limbs again for the first time in months to open up the view of all the mountain ridges ahead of us. I feel excitement settle in for the new beginnings and adventures ahead.