Despite their surface differences, each of these Colby farmers has discovered the same invaluable connection to his or her community. Armiger, Neale, Peters, and Perkins all understand that they could not live as farmers without the give-and-take relationship they have established with neighbors and friends.
"Our intent was to empower people to have access to locally and sustainably grown foods regardless of their economic situation."--Logan Perkins '01
"Something supercool about our farm," Neale said, "is the total outpouring of support that we have received from our community. The previous owner, Eddie, passed away a few years ago and he was a huge gardener, not as a profession, but as a passion. When we dig, it's pretty apparent in the make-up of the soil where Eddie has been. So many neighbors fondly remember him. They stop when they are walking by and just give us their blessings and say how wonderful and beautiful our work is."
Peters, too, even on his vast expanse, notes the importance of the Santa Fe farmer's market to his and his sister's ranching and farming. Everyone in town knows the pair, two local kids making good on their attempt to give back to the community
that raised them. For Peters, part of the allure of ranching is the ability to share his land and knowledge. "There is an open-door policy at Rancho Los Ciruelos for any wandering Colbian who finds him or herself in Santa Fe."
That welcoming spirit is just as evident in the Winter Cache Project, far from New Mexico's wide open spaces. Although Perkins and her partners live an urban life in Portland, they have infused their project with an ethos more commonly found in rural areas. For instance, in November they held an end-of-season supper and storytelling event to celebrate the harvest. Part fund raiser and part feast, the evening featured story sharing and performances by local farmers and an elaborate dinner made entirely of Maine-grown products. "We even had Maine sea salt!" Perkins said.
It's a simpler life, with what some may see as meager rewards. Not the Colby farmers. Like many who work the land, Armiger cobbles together a living: income from the farm and rental properties, gigs with his bluegrass band, Chester River Runoff, and coaching sailing. But like his kindred spirits, he is fulfilled. "My lifestyle is very independent," he said. "Even though I have no cash, I feel rich."