Coming up with a name for our farm was a daunting task. I wanted to be inspired, so I didn’t pressure myself. There was no way we could get away with using Perry, way too common around here and it had to be original to get approved for the LLC. And then it came to me during a morning commute, generally the time during which I came up with the best lesson ideas. My Zen Acres. I loved it immediately for so many reasons, but insisted on mulling and discussing before deciding for sure. My daughter was the most critical, but she’s seven and wanted it to have something to do with horses. After much consideration, it still seemed perfect to me: here’s why.
My. Although this word is a first person possessive adjective, my perspective of the word is more inclusive. Yes, this place is my zen; I am fortunate enough to sweat and toil to improve our piece of earth. That may sound contradictory to some, I know, but I will explain more later. The peace and joy that I feel here is my zen, however, my goal is to share with others. So when a customer needs a new bar of their favorite soap, they will say, “I need more of My Zen Acres soap.” That delicately scented soap gives that customer a breath of fresh air in the shower to start their day with zen. When someone plans a visit or party, they will exclaim how excited they are to come to My Zen Acres. That visitor will escape from their hectic life to relax with a meditation session, strengthen with some yoga, commune with animals, or explore poetry writing- all ways to find zen in life.
Zen. Long backstory here, but I will try to be concise. I grew up with very little experience with religion, that is until I went to Catholic high school. My six years of Catholic school, from 9th grade through two years of university, gave me an amazingly rich experience and education in world religions- one of my most treasured gifts from Catholic education as a non- Catholic. I have always been most interested in Eastern philosophies, particularly Taoism and Buddhism, so being able to teach these and other philosophies and religions as background in my World Literature class was a true joy. In teaching the novel Siddhartha I had the opportunity to explore and learn about different aspects of Buddhism with my students, including Zen Buddhism as I would show pictures of Zen gardens and Bonsai trees. In explanation, Zen Buddhism is all about finding insight and tranquility through rigorous mental and physical discipline. So the time, patience, and effort involved in making a precisely manicured garden or trimming a tree to perfection is a worthwhile effort as it can lead to inner peace. Ergo, my zen comes from sweating my a$$ off out in the North Carolina summer to make a really cool place to visit and grow some yummy produce. For real friends, the sweat has been plentiful, but dang it there is no better feeling to me right now. The satisfaction I get from working hard and seeing a project completed, no matter how nasty I get in the process, far surpasses the satisfaction I got from grading a stack of papers. In true Zen fashion I am finding tranquility through mental and physical discipline; thus fulfilling its definition in My Zen Acres. I love it here, and I hope everyone else does too.
Acres. This one is really obvious, yet part of an attempt at a pun. My Zen Acres sounds like my TEN acres, even though we only have 7… (yawn…). SO! Anyway…we have seven acres of zen. There ya have it, folks.
So now we have a name- officially an LLC. Not really sure what that means in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a step in the right direction. Also not sure what to do to be considered a small farm officially either, but that’s next on my list. And watering and weeding and mowing and pickling and… maybe some meditation to help find some balance.
I leave you with the words of my favorite classroom door sign: “Meditation in progress. Please return in zen minutes.” Namaste.