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I’ll Be On The Porch

Dave Kuma’s dreaming about the day he can sit on his porch, listen to this story, and look out at all he’s grown.

Transcript

TRANSCRIPT EVE GRASSFIELD

March 16, 2018

I’d Be On the Porch

Dave Kuma: Microphone check 1-2 1-2 Hello Hello Hello. More Food farms 2019 It’s February something or other of a date. Can you hear me can you hear me can you hear me?

SOUND: Agrimony by MF DOOM

Eve Grassfield: Hey everyone! My name is Eve Alice Grassfield, 22, I’m a volunteer at City Farm, I’m a student at Brown University and my utopia would be stuck in a looong conversation with my best friend, Ruby, probably on some patch of grass somewhere.

Dave Kuma: My name is David Gatro Kuma I’m a first generation Haitian-African Mix. I’m apprenticing to be a farmer, I’m a prospective farmer. I’ve always had this like vision of just owning land.

SOUND: Saffron by MF DOOM

Eve Grassfield: It was a Friday in the Fall of 2017, let’s say it was October 20th, though I can’t remember the exact date. 3pm. Two people were on the Southside of Providence, Rhode Island at City Farm knees in the dirt, scissors in hand, cutting Rainbow Chard. One of these people was me, Eve, the other was Dave. This was my third growing season working at the farm, so I felt comfortable on the land, but I didn’t know Dave. Dave had begun his farm apprenticeship in September and this was our first time ever working together. While harvesting, we chatted sharing stories about the weather, the vegetables and our lives. I don’t know if he just had a calming presence or if I had been longing for some sort of connection—I was 20 then, going through a break up, 80% of my friends had traveled abroad for the semester—and for the time, my work on the farm was sort of an escape–whatever it was, something suddenly prompted me to ask Dave: “hey, what’s the dream world that keeps you going?” At the time, my dream world had turned grey and listless and that afternoon I felt compelled, maybe even a little desperate, to live in someone else’s dream, even if only for a few moments.

SOUND: Saffron by MF DOOM

Narration: I listened to Dave’s musings, expecting pure optimism, maybe a kind of escape. I naively thought it might be some sort of world I could return to when I felt disheartened. A utopia I could broadcast to the world in a podcast like “Look! Hope exists!”  But listening patiently, it became clear that his hopes, just like us all, are intimately tied to our fear of the unattainable.

SOUND: Saffron by MF DOOM

Narration: Sometimes utopia is a person, sometimes it is a place, sometimes it is a political movement, sometimes it is a feeling, but what I am learning is that often it is a response to the things that hurt us most. So this is a story about those dream worlds, those hopeful imaginaries, and those utopic visions that keep us all going. Well, it’s really about one vision in particular. Here is Dave in November of 2017.

Dave Kuma: I feel like the best time at the farm was in the springtime when things were starting to bloom and the weather was turning. At that time I was getting here early just to like finish my breakfast or coffee and see the progression in the fruit trees and the children’s garden, Probably sitting on that bench under the white oak near the chicken coop and just trying to soak it all in. The farm it feels like an island, it feels like you’re in a different world you know what I mean like you’re the only one there and you feel this energy. I’ve always had this image of me owning my own house kinda not near anybody, not having any neighbors I could physically see and looking out across land. Me I’m not trying to like be a rich landowner and be a millionaire that’s not the kind of work I want to do. I just want to be sustainable just the idea of like ownership it’s kind of what drives me. I don’t want to say it but I don’t think I’ll ever have as much land as I had in my dream. [Laughs] I’m scrapping for one and a half to four and a half acres.

Narration: That was a conversation I had with Dave last Fall just after meeting. Our relationship, his journey on the farm, and frankly my audio skills have each come a long way since then.

SOUND: Agrimony by MF DOOM

Narration: My question that fall day, “What’s the dream world that keeps you going?” sparked something for both of us. Over the baby tomatoes, over the Dino kale, over the sage bushes we discussed the intimate details of our imaginaries, the places we went to when all else felt fruitless. These conversations weren’t easy. They weren’t all rainbow and rose colored and radiant. For many reasons, Dave’s dream world is a response to the things he thinks he’ll never have. 

Dave old tape: Nothing is perfect, nothing is perfect like my perfect world I don’t know if I could have that I don’t know if I’d even want it. I was thinking about that question in different terms a different way before this interview and the conversation we had before like creating a perfect world I don’t know if that would be good for me cause there’s negative shit that drives me. What if I didn’t have anything negative like what what would I would I do I would not do anything like what would I do. I’d be on the fucking porch and shit like looking at my land being the person that I don’t like now like the rich landowner that doesn’t do anything with it. God damn.  Woah. Yeah it’s crazy.

SOUND: Agrimony by MF DOOM

Rich Petersen: In this life that we’re living the idea of having dreams are so important and to be able to have a vision of what you want to see happen I think is an important step forward into making that thought or that dream a reality. You know…

Narration: That was Rich, City Farm Steward and my long-term boss, though he would hate to hear me referring to him as such. Rich describes us as friends. At the beginning of every shift, he tells each volunteer first to take a walk. “Observe all the changes and report back. I think there’s a new flower blooming in that corner.” When we return, he wants to know what we see and how we see it. Dave and Rich worked side by side for more than a year and have built a strong bond, Rich understands Dave.

Rich Petersen: If Dave was at the farm and he was um off task if you will I feel like Dave would be having a pretty deep philosophical question with somebody at the farm. He challenges you to think about what you’re doing and who you are pretty regularly. I’m uh I don’t know 15 maybe 16 years older than Dave and I feel like Dave taught me a lot about um in our time together

Narration: Since meeting Dave two years ago, life has changed drastically for both of us. For me, an impending graduation means my dream world is becoming much more daunting. For him, now leasing his own farm land and starting his own farming business he seems, at least on paper, one step closer to his dream. But since our first conversation, I’ve learned that for Dave, and really for us all, dreaming is never simple or linear. So last February, we met again at his farm, called MORE FOOD, in Seekonk, to revisit the state of our dreamworlds. Here is us, sitting in his car overlooking fields of snowy crop land.

Dave Kuma: The feeling that I get after a harvest day like after a ten twelve hour day of really hard work and like after the shower and after you eat a meal that is made by food you cultivated like there’s a feeling that I get that is perfect. Like that would be it that’d be sustained in my utopic vision and I know it’s not necessarily realistic but when when people come out here there’s a feeling I know they feel cause I feel the same thing it’s nice to come out here and kinda clear your mind and I like to process things out here, I like to think out here. I guess I’ve really had an image in my head even before I started in agriculture, which wasn’t that long ago. Just  the image of space, just a little more space. It is different like doing this kind of work and not owning the land and leasing it it’s a reminder of a lot of things that are sometimes hard to put into words because they are pretty good people so you don’t want to associate them with anything but you know I’m leasing farm land from two white landowners. Shit even just being a black motorist in this area in this country is just like I sometimes have to prepare I have to mentally prepare myself for that and like every time I pass a cop car Yeah I’d love to own my own land someday it’s just probably not going to be in Seekonk.

Eve Grassfield: I know in our last conversation when we were talking about utopias you talked about owning land…

Dave Kuma: So fucking close haha…

Eve Grassfield: Yeah well no before you were apprentice does this feel like how does this feel on some progression does it feel like one step closer does it not?

Dave Kuma: Hmmm.. that’s a great question this is really like a timestamp in my life it’s crazy yeah yeah that would be the dream to own land. Does it feel closer? No.. it doesn’t. It really doesn’t but yeah I guess the image I always had in my head, and I guess it has changed, before it was looking over a field of like just pastured land just overgrown wildflowers or something now it would be a small garden, probably an acre of vegetable production just being able to like get to decide on what to do with that space. A utopic vision it’s just a vision at the end of the day right so if somebody reaches it cool I guess that was the goal but it’s still a vision. It’s something that’s motivative for at least me it’s something that brings me to a sense of peace just knowing I have a vision and I’m actually working towards it is big for me as opposed to just talking about things and how you would want things to be or how you want your life to go actually working on it and then when you see results it’s pretty.. it’s pretty powerful. It feels good.

Eve Grassfield: That is the dream world, hopeful imaginary, and vision that keeps Dave Kuma, once apprentice, now steward of MORE FOOD Farm in Seekonk, Massachusetts going.

Dave Kuma: It was an interesting question you posed to me last year about a utopian view of things which I’ve always thought of kind of but never been asked specifically so that thought has like traveled with me. So… thanks. I haven’t listened to the first interview and you know what I would have never like it’ll be cool to be  able to listen to this in a rocking chair on a porch overlooking a field of everything anything growing anything that I want to be growing.. That would be sick.

Eve Grassfield: I like that image. I’m beaming right now like the audio can’t show that but

Dave Kuma: Maybe I’ll wait for that. Or if I know it’s not going to happen it’ll be interesting too.

Eve Grassfield: Oh god.

Dave Kuma: Hey you gotta take the good with the bad the sun sets and it rises you know so yeah. Thanks.

Eve Grassfield: Is there anything else you want to add anything else I didn’t ask you about that you want to expand upon?

Dave Kuma: Uhhh… support POC run businesses for the love of god.

Sound: Saffron by MF DOOM