The Problem is the Solution

It’s all been a little hectic as we “settle in” to the life here on the Fattorie Faggioli.  As some folks have facetiously suggested, our whole mission to coax donkeys and keep goats out of the feed (et.c etc. etc.) is a daunting task considering the number of things to do and our minimal experience.  However, I keep thinking about how Federica’s family built this business with little experience and also risking the comfort and of their family.  Obviously we see that at the moment everyone’s a bit tired and looking for Plan B, but really it’s impressive what’s been accomplished and we’re in much the same place they were.

However, it’s also very different to arrive into this mix and find oneself suddenly more responsible that expected. For example, last weekend as we scurried about with a large group here, Fausto mentioned that a few interns were coming on Monday to learn about the farm.

“Ok,” we said “so they’ll just be here to lend a hand with all the work to do? Great!”  In fact, when Monday arrived we found that Fausto was leaving to another training somewhere else and it was in fact US who were expected to be the supervisors of this situation.  We’re just arriving ourselves and figuring out the situation, and we certainly were not prepared to respond the needs and direction of 3 other people.  Not only that, the interns had actually been prepped by Fausto to expect his daughter, an expert in Permaculture, and his son in law, an accomplished manager, to integrate the expectations of the internship (planting and tending crops) into a whole system of  rural sustainability education based on our experiences.  Needless to say, we were not ready to meet this expectation. Yet, though Federica has only just taken one Permaculture class, one of the fundamental principles of Permaculture is that the problem is the solution.

So we scrambled.  That first morning we went out to the greenhouse and took a look around.  We had the problem of these folks who expected us to be experts.  We had the problem of not in fact being experts, nor even having time to prepare to be experts.  Some of our other problems are lack of or missing equipment, many different moving parts, and the constant need to create systems that actually make things more efficient rather than simply patching them together.  But in the midst of all these many issues, we also do genuinely have the opportunity to invite someone in, look at the problems as they are presented and then see if we can devise a plan.  If it does’t work, we have still learned something which is what makes this place different than a “normal farm.” If there is one thing I really enjoy doing, it’s thinking on the fly and also the process of learning something.   So this is our problem, how can we come up with a solution together to solve it?

The plan I came up with on the fly I’ll share more about later, and also the new problems it created, but I’m really going to hold onto this principle of finding solutions in the problems.  To be honest, we also were struggling to come up with an “in” to begin the conversation with Fausto about our needs and boundaries while we are here.  This provided a perfect first opportunity to open that conversation with him. The problem is the solution.

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