What does it imply to domesticate pleasure? Does it imply to take current constructions and rework them right into a system that not solely helps you and your work, but additionally elevates it? Or does it imply to commit your time, area and power to issues that actually deliver you happiness?
These are questions that Bo Dennis has considered for years. As somebody who as soon as segmented totally different elements of himself, the reply appears to lie in becoming a member of these items collectively.
“I tried for so long to suppress my queer identity when I was in farming spaces and it was suffocating and not healthy for me,” Dennis says. “So I needed to make a shift and that involved being holistically myself within farming spaces and unapologetically gay.”
As a queer, trans farmer in rural Maine, Dennis was used to hiding elements of himself. He would attempt to costume in sure methods to keep away from getting misgendered or dampen his outgoing character to dodge scrutiny. The consequences of homophobia and transphobia chipped away at his resolve, little by little and prompted him to shrink inward.
However farming is a really bodily, quick job. There’s no hiding when fields must be planted or sheep must be sheared. And it was that bodily work that introduced Dennis again to his physique and again to himself. “I’m working with my body when I’m working on my farm. And this is a queer body. So they are linked for me,” he says.
Dennis started farming in 2008 with a job on a dairy farm. From there, he moved to a vegetable farm, spending six years cultivating natural greens. After that, he labored with mates on a sheep farm, elevating herds for each meat and wool. He liked how a lot there was to study and the way farming allowed him to be inventive, innovating as he went. “’I’ve only been farming for 12 years, which means that I’ve only grown tomatoes 12 times. There’s always more feedback.” In 2019, Dennis moved full time into sustainably farming flowers and opened up Dandy Ram Farm.
At first, Dennis leased land from his mates at Search No Additional Farmstead, earlier than buying his personal plot of land this yr. He’s planning to completely transfer his farm by subsequent yr from leased land to his personal 18 acres. He has plans for annuals, perennials and balsam bushes for wreaths he creates. He works with uncommon additions to his bouquets, like juniper and grasses, including texture among the many lush colours. There’s area on his farm for a greenhouse and a flower studio and the rest that “creates a magical space where [the] queer community feels safe and welcomed to be within rural space.”
He hopes to include an area for his boyfriend, a baker, on his farmland, musing that sooner or later they might fuse their passions and have a “bagels and blooms” occasion at a neighborhood farmer’s market. That’s the inventive mindset that helps him on the farm, the place he says he sees potential round each nook. “Applying that mindset of ‘how can I innovate? And how can I tweak this?’ Which, in my mind, is how a lot of farmers’ brains work,” he says.
Dennis is considerate about holding the deed to this land, recognizing that he resides on the ancestral land of the Wabanaki individuals. He says he’s dedicated to making sure that income from his farm return to these communities and he contributes to Indigenous initiatives such because the Bomazeen Land Belief and Wabanaki Attain. “If I profit off of that land, I’m thinking about, ‘I’m paying taxes to a federal government that is colonizing. I will pay the same amount in those taxes for my land and my house to Indigenous led solidarity projects, for access to land and food and medicine,’” he says.
He additionally works to attach new farmers to assets and training that might assist them, via his work with the Maine Natural Farmers and Gardeners Affiliation. For Dennis, the objective is to interrupt down as many boundaries to farming as potential. He says that he is aware of too properly how exhausting it’s for marginalized individuals to obtain farming training and funding, as he needed to attempt to navigate that world as a queer and trans individual. “And I hold so much privilege as a white person to be able to recognize that this is explicitly not working for people of color, and Black and Indigenous people that are farming or involved in food production,” he says.
However Dennis confronted these unequal methods head on and now stakes a declare to be each seen and heard in rural areas. “I don’t want to live in a city,” he says. “My heart feels so held within rural spaces and green spaces. And yet, I don’t believe that we should have to sacrifice really important parts of ourselves and our communities to be in those spaces.” So Dennis is working to dismantle the previous constructions and create higher ones for himself and people who come after him. As he wrote in an essay for Edible Maine, he’s proud to be one of many function fashions he wanted when he was 18.
That’s what cultivating pleasure appears like.