In the last couple of weeks, the topic of food service, and my long history with it has come up and it's got me thinking about my long, windy path that lead to Peace and Plenty Farm. I waitressed in San Francisco for decades, yes, decades. Some of those years, I was doing plenty of other things: going to school, raising my daughter, launching my catering business, but a good handful of those years, I was just waiting (borrowing from Debra Ginsberg's book of the same title for that zinger).
I worked at a dozen restaurants, but my first gig was at Green's at Fort Mason in San Francisco. For those of you that aren't familiar with Greens, it was one of the first restaurants to elevate vegetarian food to "haute cuisine," to work closely with a local farm (Green Gulch) to supply their produce and to serve only seasonal, mostly local food. Green Gulch farm and the beautiful farm/garden at Tassajara were my first organic farms I'd ever visited, and the beauty and quality of the plants and soil stayed with me as a goal of what I wanted to create when the desire to farm formed in me (some 10 years later).
I sometimes judge myself for spending so much of my life in the service industry, but in talking with a friend who had also waitressed for years and visited us at the farm this past weekend, we both agreed that we learned some very valuable things waitressing - things that have served us well in all aspects of our lives beyond the apron. We can multi-task like no-one's business, we're quick thinkers and can assess and prioritize immediate needs quickly, we tidy as we go so that there is no mess to come back to, we never cross a room (or a field) empty handed, and we are strong workers who can put in the time to get something done, til that last table has their dessert. Granted, I could have learned those things in 5 years instead of 20, but I am not going to question or doubt my long, windy path anymore, because eventually, the table led me to the farm and I am so happy to be here.