Helen Havlik’s lifelong passions for eating healthy and finding God in nature led her to Plainsong Farm and when she recently retired, she felt a call to volunteer on the farm. Helen’s participation on the farm reflects her lifelong journey toward choosing a healthy lifestyle and experiencing the divine in nature.
As Plainsong was in its infancy, Helen attended a clergy group where Executive Director Nurya Parish shared about the concept of addressing food inequity through a CSA model. This focus on food justice within a CSA model made sense to Helen. She points out that she loves fresh veggies because she knows what they taste like, and the farm “introduces people to nutritious food that tastes good.”
She describes how Jesus often used food metaphors and was labeled a drunkard and a glutton, “He spent time around the table eating with people. It holds a sense of abundance.” But that abundance is disrupted by those who want more than their fair share, and Helen volunteers with that inequity in mind, “There’s enough for all, it’s just not distributed properly.” She’s excited with Plainsong about the move toward more directly addressing food equity.
While in college, Helen describes meeting “a vegetarian who was incredibly healthy and vibrant through her plant based diet and being active outdoors,” and this encounter pushed her in the direction of becoming a vegetarian herself. As a young girl, Helen began to make the connection between nature and experiencing the divine. And in middle school, Girl Scouting deepened her appreciation for being in nature. Even as she felt a call to ministry, she ascribed to the Reformed tradition that found God not just in scripture, but in nature as well.
Before retirement, Helen had a CSA share and would come to the farm for events like Sabbath at the Farm and Pattern Days. Whenever she set foot on the farm, it reminded her of growing up in the country surrounded by fields, “It felt like coming full circle.” Even the pine grove where we meet for Sabbath at the Farm reminded her of the chapel in the pines where she used to celebrate Scout’s Own with her Girl Scout troop. She describes Plainsong as a very spiritual place, if not a Celtic thin place, “I just know I’m close to God.”
Helen has been called to many things throughout her life, and volunteering on the farm was another one of those callings. She shares, “It’s a way to be of service and get back to the connection between being in nature and knowing God. To have the luxury of being while doing.”
As a volunteer, Helen values both the variety of work and building relationships with other volunteers. She gives credit to both Katharine (volunteer coordinator) and Mike (farm manager) for their skill at supervising and teaching, “It makes volunteering very easy when you know what you’re doing.” She loves the feeling of accomplishment at the end of volunteer hours, “I like that it’s different every time, whether planting, harvesting or packing CSA shares.”
Volunteering every other Friday with mostly the same group of volunteers that ranged from kids to seniors added to Helen’s experience. “Getting to know people makes it even more worthwhile. I look forward to seeing them.” Her favorite moment was a spontaneous collaboration with a few of the younger volunteers to put netting over the bok choy and cabbage, “They were so excited and proud after they did it! It’s been fun working with them.” Her least favorite part of the job? “I’m not crazy about the bugs.”
At the end of the day when Helen brought home her CSA share, she enjoyed making galletes, a French rustic tart, with any combination of veggies. She also enjoys a pasta slaw with kohlrabi and cooks a lot of steamed green beans.
She hopes to continue working with Plainsong in later seasons, “Moving into a new stage of my life, it’s a place to center, and an important connection, especially this summer with being outdoors.”