Harvest was on my mind this weekend. Usually at this time of year, I’m thinking about back-to-school or la rentrée as it’s known in France. It’s a time full of excitement, emotion and chaos – not just for a new school year, but for everyone. Going back to work, the rhythm of day-to-day resuming and all the optimism and opportunity this time of year brings.
But today, I’m thinking about harvest. Both actually and metaphorically.
By way of actual harvest, today we had homegrown Padrón peppers (griddled with rock salt) for our apéritif. Then a traditional Sunday roast with runner beans and kale from the garden. Followed by blackberry and apple crumble. From the hedgerow and orchard. Schlurp.
It’s also a great metaphor for what we do as networks and organisations. One of our winners in this year’s INTO Excellence Awards was the Ruan Yisan Heritage Foundation’s Arts Harvest. And our friends at Fit for the Future use the term, Network Harvest for their excellent annual conference.
Here at INTO, like farmers and gardeners, we too sow seeds, patiently tender and water, and trust in a process which will deliver great results.
Firstly, we all have a vision for what it is we want to grow. (Growth is even one of INTO’s four strategic themes.) And you need to prioritise. No use trying to grow something that won’t flourish in your soil type or climate.
But you can improve your soil. By adding good manure and keeping down the weeds. That too is possible in organsiations. Laying down the foundations for future growth. (And internal Strength is another of INTO’s strategic themes.) In the same way you can also assess your personal strengths and weaknesses. Different plants need different conditions to grow.
Secondly, you sow your seeds. And you must sow the seed of the plant you want to eventually harvest. As you tend and water the seedlings, take time to nurture both yourself and other people. Have patience and offer support. That’s the way to get your goals to bear fruit. Sometimes things will happen that are outside your control. Like droughts, floods, pests. Be flexible and prepared to make the most of things.
Lastly, harvest your crop and enjoy it! And if you don’t get quite what you were hoping for or expecting then you can think again for next year.
Well, I’m already wondering what I will (and won’t) grow next year in my garden. But I’m also thinking about what I can achieve in the next four months before the end of this year. And I hope you are too. INTO is here to help so do please reach out to us if there’s anything we can offer: the Incubator programme will help organisations learn more about the National Trust model. Our TAP-INTO and ASK-INTO programmes offer a means for connecting our members to learn and grow.
Next week, we will welcome Mary Anthony and Gillian Land of the 1772 Foundation to our offices. We’ve have the pleasure of working with the Foundation for a year or so now. And it’s developing into a really positive and inspirational relationship. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing them both and introducing them to colleagues here. And the link to harvest? Well, I made them each a bag of lavender from my garden. And as their visit had a theme of cycle routes, I made appliqué flowery bikes for them both!