Adapting our skills

GIANT campaign sign on the farm box truck!

Fall on the farm is a classically busy time — time for getting the final plantings of greens in the ground, for beginning to harvest storage crops like apples and winter squash, and for sowing winter’s cover crops.

This year, we’ve added a new twist, as we continue the work of running Casey’s campaign for Yamhill County Commissioner. I’ve been mostly silent on this enterprise in these newsletter this year, assuming that folks who are interested can easily follow his campaign news on the other social media outlets we’ve used for that purpose. We also haven’t wanted to assume that people who enjoy our vegetables are necessarily 100% on board with our politics! We are grateful for our farm’s diverse community and want everyone to continue feeling welcomed and comfortable in the spaces we create around our farm (such as at our storefront!).

But, I did want to reflect briefly on the process of running a campaign — because, quite frankly, it’s been a fascinating experience! When Casey and I decided that, yes, we were ready for him to step into the work of running for office, we had some inklings of what a campaign would be like because my mom has also run for office before. However, we’ve approached most of the work “one step at a time,” learning about each new piece of the puzzle in the order of their urgency. We have had to ask: what needs to happen next? And, then that’s the project we work on, leaving the others for a subsequent day or week. It has felt at many times like walking through a dense fog, where we can only see what’s immediately in front of us. One week, we needed to write a candidate statement for the voter’s guide, so we worked on that. The next week, we needed to design signs, so we did that. And, so on.

The summer break between the primary’s conclusion and real start of the fall general election provided us a needed opportunity to step back and think more about the big picture, including taking several weeks to revise the language around the campaign. What did Casey want to emphasize in his materials? Revising those priorities and language choices allowed us to start the fall with a better idea of how to tailor every other choice around those foundations.

Along the way, we’ve been surprised to learn how many skills we already have for this work too. Marketing a candidate for local office is, ultimately, not really that different from marketing a local farm. There are very similar “pieces” to the puzzle: creating images and stories that represent the desired image — one that is authentic to the candidate or farm and also appealing to many people; building enthusiasm through upbeat, positive social media messages; meeting people in community spaces and sharing a positive message in person; and creating opportunities for people to gather and learn more. We’re very aware of how every spoken or written word or shared image needs to represent the goals of the campaign — that’s something we’ve become keenly aware of in running the farm as well.

So, in that way, we’ve leaned heavily on all that we’ve learned over the last 13 years of farming in terms of writing letters, designing ads, composing social media content, reaching out to people for help and connections, and making other fun surprises happen (such as deciding to make good use of the existing real estate on the farm box truck for a truly giant, truly beautiful, hand-painted wooden campaign sign made by local artist Mitch Horning).

Tonight we’re pulling all those skills together to officially launch the fall campaign at a party at Community Plate. I probably won’t post this newsletter until after we get home, so I may add a post-script with an update of how it went. Regardless, we are looking forward to the opportunity to once again gather with community and build enthusiasm.

After recent years of feeling frustrated by the political climate at large, Casey and I have both really enjoyed the work of pondering our ideal candidate. If we could dream up the person we’d be overjoyed to vote for, what would that candidate say? What would he or she do? What would his or her priorities be for our community? Along the way, we’ve listened to others to learn the same from them, and we’ve pulled all those ideas together as we’ve worked on the campaign, aiming to create a campaign that we (and hopefully many others) can become truly, genuinely excited about. For Casey and me, the “means” are the “end.” How we do things on a day-to-day basis is the work of our lives, and this campaign is no different. At the very least, we hope that the campaign itself can be a positive influence on local politics.

So, what did today look like on the farm? The morning found Casey harvesting in the fields (for tomorrow’s CSA!) and me inside doing school with the kids. An out-of-town friend arrived in time for lunch, and then he and Casey took off in the box truck to put up more field signs while I wrote this newsletter and prepared things for tonight’s party. Then we’ll all meet up in town for the party! It’s been one of many full days, as we balance the many passions and joys of our life!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

Look at all those people!

P.S. Campaign kick-off party is over. I’ll just say this: we reached (and possibly exceeded) capacity for Community Plate!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Prune plums
  • Liberty apples
  • Jonagold apples
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Hot peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Salad mix
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Onions
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