Twinkling lights, well-loved carols and really nice wrenches
Jeff reflects on gifts that are better than things…
but there’s the things, too.

By Jeff Moyer, The Rodale Institute® Farm Manager

Jeff Moyer is the farm manager at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm, and has been here for over 26 years, refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems. The farm has over 1,000 organic apple trees, a 3-acre CSA, 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market, and 25 acres of experimental research plots that have been used to test and compare the yield, soil health and environmental impact of organic and conventional systems for the last 22 years.

"It's been extremely rewarding to work at The Rodale Institute," says Jeff. "Working on projects and with people who are having a positive impact on family farm practices, economics, and environmental stewardship is very fulfilling. The positive changes I've seen on our own farm over the years—and farms around the world— convinces me that we're on the right road."

How to contact Jeff

Click here

611 Siegfriedale Rd.
Kutztown, PA 19530

Posted December 14, 2006: Well, deer season has opened and harvest is finally winding down, so it must be coming up on the Christmas time of year.

Things start to slow down around here during these early weeks of December. We get a brief rest before the conference season starts and then it’s on to spring planting. We can’t completely shut down since there are equipment repairs to make, seeds to order (see November’s article) and supplies and equipment to buy.

Speaking of buying and making lists…the coming of the holidays also means it’s time to think about giving the people closest to you a gift, just a little something to let them know how special they really are. I always have trouble picking out just the right gift for someone, especially if you can’t find it at the hardware store.

Here’s the honest truth: I find it much easier to pick out gifts for myself. I think about things I know I need, the things I think I need and things I just plain want. I can come up with important items for the farm, the shop, for my hobbies. Boy, the list is endless.

I know that sort of defeats the purpose of giving gifts…you know, giving to yourself.

My wife always says “You’re so hard to buy for.”

“Not me,” I say. “I’m easy to buy for.” In fact I was just thinking today that a nice set of flex-head ratcheting wrenches would be the perfect gift to give to myself. Or, maybe, since I was really good this past year—a new gooseneck trailer.

See—I’m easy to buy for!

But, the task at hand is to think of what others might want for a gift, something to remind them that I took the time to think about them. And, the more time I spend thinking about it, the more I begin to realize that gifts don’t need to be “things” at all.

Maybe what I give those close to me is already enough: a warm dry home to live in, a farm to feed us, friendship, love and support.

But maybe what I need to give them is more of myself—more of my time, all through the year. More of who I really am. More of what makes all of our lives special to each other. A better ear for listening, more time to assist a neighbor, time to play with the kids or attend their activities, or maybe just a helping hand where it’s needed.

So that’s what I’ll do—I’ll make a list of all the things I can give to those around me that aren’t really “things” at all, but are far more important. I don’t know how I’ll wrap them, but I’ll figure something out.

So to all of you, I wish for you all those intangible “things” that really do express the true sentiments during this joyous season and throughout the year.

Now, to be on the safe side—should all my loved ones just decide to give me more of themselves—I’d better head off to find some traditional gifts for a special someone. Like maybe I’ll just go to the hardware store to see if they happen to have a set of flex-head ratcheting wrenches.

You know, just in case.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

From One Farm to Another