December 2016

I have said it before, and I will say it time and time again; What a sacred space Sarvodaya has been for me.

Last week on the farm was a short week, due to the holidays and most of us traveling to see friends and family. My travels were definitely a needed change from the routine I have been maintaining throughout this past half year, but God am I glad to be back. Sometimes I forget that the world I place myself in, (this world of being environmentally conscious, and all that comes with it), is a drastically different than the rest of that which I have known throughout my life. It is a relief to my soul to return to a space filled with people who aspire to aid in healing the trauma we have created for our dear Earth. People who don’t find it strange to actually care about creatures (animal, and plant life alike) outside of the limited view of humanity that they are surrounded by. Who care about our place within the natural world, instead of being so indulged in consumerism and the wasteful accumulation of objects that were built with intentional obsoletion hardwired into their system. Not that I don’t appreciate the incredible technology that is available to us, but in the words of my dad, “I bought them because I could” seems to be the way general society interacts with what they invest in. It was quite astonishing, really, to see all of the soon to be junk that was given and received. And, again, I am just really happy to be back. Even with as much as I drastically enjoyed the time spent with loved ones.

Last week was a calm one at the farm. The days were crisp and frosty.

My favorite.

I have been quite enjoying my interaction with the chickens, and am happy that I wasn’t around to witness the killing of two of them on Friday. Honestly, I probably would have cried. Not that I don’t understand death, but I feel I will always have difficulty understanding killing outside the necessity for survival. Although, I am a firm believer of anyone who consumes animal products having the experience of killing that which they eat, in order to provide full exposure to the process. I feel it is much easier for many to overconsume in meat when you never have to see the meat outside of the already butchered state. Taking a life can aid in the appreciation of life, as paradoxical as that seems. What is life, other than an infinitely interconnected paradox.

Back to the chickadees. They definitely recognize me by now. Although I already had a conceptual understanding of their ability to do so, it is a whole different thing to very vividly experience the differences in their interactions with multiple people. They have become so accustomed to me that they hardly need to be rounded up when it is time for them to return to their coops. I enjoy speaking to them, and they seem to recognize certain words, especially retaining to food. No surprise there. Though they also recognize when I tell them that I am going to turn the wood stumps we have within their area. They love scavenging for bugs that gather beneath the stumps. I am convinced that the pretty little Australorp that I call my favorite is mutually in love with me. She’s a feisty one, but as soon as I approach she is right there, and seems to enjoy staying in whatever general area that I am in. When she is in her better moods she will let me pick her up without a fuss. When she if feeling feisty she likes to stay in range, but far enough to where can’t be easily picked up. Though she is now the first to come running when I call them back into the coops. I think she knows she is my favorite, though I swear some of the other hens are jealous and will take a peck at her now and again when they are all gathered around me. I have discovered that most of the hens really enjoy being lightly massaged at the sweed of their back (the area right before their tail feathers). It seems to help calm them when they feel anxious about returning to their coops.

Frost collecting on Arugula.

Frozen puddle of rain water on the Cat food container.

Gorgeous little Plymouth rock, also known as a Barred Rock.

Cecile jinxed herself and caught a gopher (a rare occurrence). This little feline didn’t hesitate to feast upon the catch. Strange enough, as much as I have no desire to kill, I have little problem handing an already dead corpse, as death equally fascinates me.

Farmers’ Note

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

Today marks the last CSA distribution day of the year and the end of our first full year of CSA production and membership. Today also marks a major milestone for us, as we crossed the 10,000 lb mark for produce harvested this year (we harvested 10,026 lbs of produce from our farm to be exact). We also crossed another milestone by delivering 1,044 CSA boxes full of nutrient-rich, clean and healthy produce this year. Each of those numbers represents countless hours of loving work put into the farm by our staff, farmer trainees, and volunteers. Those numbers also have a broader ecological meaning, representing 10,000 pounds of food that was not imported into our community from far off regions, 10,000 pounds of food that was grown without the use of toxic compounds, and 10,000 pounds of food that have nourished bodies and delighted taste-buds.

My dad always told me while I was growing up that farming is the world’s most honest work, and I have come to see the truth in this statement. Ecological farming, which doesn’t rely on the use of mined petroleum, minerals, and fertility is truly honest work. We can only harvest what we sow, and the Earth can only give to us what we give to her. Each week as we pack our boxes of produce, I feel an immense joy seeing and tasting the integrity of our produce. With each bite you can taste the thoughtfulness and care we put into our fruits, vegetables, and eggs, and I hope that honesty comes through to our Members as well.

Here’s to a fantastic year and continued progress in 2017. Thank you all for your ongoing and righteous support. Happy New Year!

Until next time,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Nopales beginning to flower.

Brooke showing the daikons some love.

Cover crops are growing tall in the orchard.

Yes we’re obsessed with daikons.

Susan keeping the soil on the farm.

Felicity, a farm volunteer, harvests swiss chard.

Farmer Trainee’s Journal

This week’s CSA Box

(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)

Notes for This Week’s Box
beet greens can be eaten just like swiss chard. Try it!

Large Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 bunch lacinato (dino) kale
– 1 sweet potato
– 1  box nopales
– 1 box baby spinach
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 box Asian stirfry mix

Herbs:
– 1 bunch cilantro
– 1 bunch parsley

Fruit:
– 2 lbs assorted fruit (Hachiya persimmons, sweet limes, apples)

Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch daikon radish (eat roots and leaves) * not pictured
– 1 box Asian stirfry mix
– 1 box nopales
– 1 sweet potato

Herbs:
– 1 bunch cilantro

Fruit:
– 1 lb assorted fruit (Hachiya persimmons, sweet limes, apples)

Storage Instructions

Leafy Vegetables
In case your greens are wilted by the time you pickup your box, please follow these instructions:

– Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
– Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
– Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
– Leave the greens in the bowl overnight and by morning they should be rehydrated

Wrap your rehydrated greens in a towel and store the in the fridge. Summer greens like water spinach, moringa, and yam leaves don’t last long either way, so eat those as soon as you can.

Herbs
The best way to store your herbs so that they keep longer is to cut the stems a little and place them in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Cover the leaves loosely with a bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Replace the water inside when it gets cloudy. This works great with basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and many other herbs.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us and also any storing tips you may have. 🙂

New day on the farm, and new set of tasks! Susan and I are now on the compost and nursery tasks for the remaining time of the internship. Which made me realize we are already about 3 months in, with about a month left :(. BUT I am so excited to gain more knowledge on compost, especially from the compost queen, Lynn! Although I had the chance of managing compost on my campus last year, I only knew the simple basics, and know that I still have some knowledge to gain. On our first day, we got to build a nice HUGE pile of compost. I kept thinking, “OMG this thing is BIG, should we keep going?” We sure kept building up the pile until we were done! We had the chance of also screening some of the finished compost, we were so amazed how rich it was.

New big compost pile!

Screened compost.

On Wednesday for class, we talked about water in LA, and the cycle of water. In the end I was thinking to myself, well why aren’t there more urban farms with rich soil? Why are we destroying our soil, up to the point it has no life? Why have we covered up the ground with concrete and not let rain get to the soil? Why do people waste water on lawns rather than growing food? Why are we letting so much rain water go to waste!!?? Rishi showed us an example of soil that had no organic matter or much life to it, vs soil that had organic matter and was rich. When water fell on the dirt it didn’t filter though at all, which means it either runs off to the ocean or evaporates. When the same amount of water fell on the rich soil, there was no run off, and it filtered though, meaning that it would become ground water and become part of the water cycle. There was much more we learned about this, but sharing a bit so you can get the idea. If there were more urban farms, or simply good rich soil with organic matter, I honestly don’t think the drought would be as bad as it is, we would have local water and of course, local food.

Run off on soil that has no organic matter, or much life.

 

 

Water went through the soil slowly, as it should be!

 

We have been experiencing cold mornings at the farm that even some plants have little ice crystals on them.

Foggy and chilly morning at the farm.

Daikon hugging each other 🙂

Love, Cindy

Farmers’ Note

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

Today the year comes to a close, and in the darkness of the solstice, we are given time to reflect on our lives, our work, and our relationships. At the farm, that means looking back to a year of continuous learning, steady growth, and deep friendships. We started this year at the farm in definite uncertainty. We had developed the farm on a property we did not own, we did not have enough customers for the produce we were growing, and we were overwhelmed with the amount of time and effort that running a farm required.

But that was last solstice. Since then, much darkness has lifted, and we have followed the shining luminescence of our dreams towards the creation of a truly community-centered ecological urban farm. Early in the year, much light was brought to the farm by our new farm team members, Katie and Lynn. Both Katie and Lynn were part of our Farmer Training Program at the end of 2015, and in 2016 they have become integral to the farms success and growth. They have both contributed to the farm in numerous ways as mentors, managers, trainers, farmers, and friends and we look forward to their continued growth in the new year.

At the start of the year, our Farmer Training Program was loosely organized and loosely managed. With the help of Katie and Lynn, the program has grown in many directions, bringing our trainees much deeper into the farm and giving them a variety of skills and understandings to not only be good farmers, but good ecological citizens. Many of our graduated trainees are now off in the world, creating gardens of goodness in schools, non-profits, backyards and farms. We are excitedly awaiting our next class of trainees, who will start with us just after the new year (applications to the program are open until Jan. 1, click here).

On a personal level, this year has been one of tremendous growth and change. On the surface, I have had to become much more organized and directed to keep the farm and all of its programs running smoothly. On deeper level, the farm has been the source of many answers to life questions that have nagged at me for years, and I feel like I am beginning to understand some of the underlying patterns that guide all life, whether bugs, plants, or people. The Training Program has also been a wonderful growth opportunity for me to finally learn how to interact and connect with people (sometimes an alien skill to farmers). As the sun rises past the solstice, I’m sure it will will continue to illuminate and enlighten.

P.S. If you’d like to read more about all of The Growing Club’s work this year, please read our Annual Report
And If you’d like to support what we do, and get a tax-deduction, please consider Making a Donation to The Growing Club or becoming a Growing Club Sustaining Member.

Until next time,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Cilantro grows in the nursery.

Farm interns and a farm volunteer learn how to harvest lemongrass.

Farmer Trainee’s Journal
This week’s CSA Box

(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)

Notes for This Week’s Box

mung bean sprouts need to be cooked before eating. Please steam, blanch, or saute them before consuming.

Large Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch carrots
– 1 bunch collards
– 2 heads bok choy
– 1  bunch Napa cabbage
– 1 box mung bean sprouts
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch sweet potato
– 1 bunch moringa pods

Herbs:
– 1 bunch lemongrass
– 1 bunch parsley

Fruit:
– 2 lbs assorted fruit (pomegranate, sweet limes, apples)

Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 Growing Home Kabocha *not pictured
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch daikon *daikon greens pictured
– 1 large head bok choy
– 1 box mung bean sprouts
– 1 bunch napa cabbage
– 1 bunch moringa pods

Herbs:
– 1 bunch lemongrass

Fruit:
– 1 lb assorted fruit (sweet limes, apples)

Storage Instructions

Leafy Vegetables
In case your greens are wilted by the time you pickup your box, please follow these instructions:

– Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
– Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
– Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
– Leave the greens in the bowl overnight and by morning they should be rehydrated

Wrap your rehydrated greens in a towel and store the in the fridge. Summer greens like water spinach, moringa, and yam leaves don’t last long either way, so eat those as soon as you can.

Herbs
The best way to store your herbs so that they keep longer is to cut the stems a little and place them in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Cover the leaves loosely with a bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Replace the water inside when it gets cloudy. This works great with basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and many other herbs.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us and also any storing tips you may have. 🙂

Ayurveda Tip of the Week

Drinking hot water regularly is a simple Ayurvedic recommendation. Boiling the water for ten minutes stimulates agni (digestive fire) directly, allowing food to be processed and absorbed more efficiently during the meal. Taken between meals, it can provide effective support in flushing out water-soluble toxins from the dhatus (body tissues).  Following this tip will allow a strong immune system this season. – Jennifer Vivanco       (Ayurveda Educator- Ayurveda Practitioner Student)

I am an indecisive person.

My problem being that I feel equal about all of the things that I enjoy.

As my best friend would say, “You love everything.” And she’s right, I do. But in addition to the countless of other healthful benefits that Sarvodaya has brought into my life, it has encouraged some feelings of decisiveness. Even if in a, still, vague manner. It feels as if I’ve been there before. As if I’ve done all of this. It feels natural, and familiar. And when I speak of it to others I can hear it in my voice –how it moves me. How passionate I feel about this. And the more I consciously navigate it the clearer that it becomes that this is what I want. Well, to be in this world, at least. Tending to the earth. I’ve realized that I am immensely interested in ecology. In the relationships between things. In the relationship between humans and nature, and why it is that we seem to see ourselves as a separate entity. How to aid in the development of a mutually beneficial relationship between Humankind, and the rest of the living creatures upon this planet.

The potential intelligence of other creatures astonishes me. Most specifically of plant life, and our friendly little (not so) creepy crawlers. I believe that all creatures hold intelligence far beyond most of our preconceived notions. And that in turn each ecosystem, being compiled with intelligent life forms, are conscious “mega-organisms” themselves. Similar to my understanding of “God”.

I don’t yet know what will come with this interest in ecology, but I can feel something exciting and new, sprouting freshly beneath my skin. I look forward to experiencing it’s evolution.

For any of you who may also be interest in plant intelligence, I highly recommend “The Brilliant Green”, by Stefano Mancuso. It’s a light read, but it will keep you entirely captivated none the less.

Last week was the beginning of my chicken duty rotation. For the first day Manju and I cleaned and moved both coops. It wasn’t too difficult, as cleaning seems to be one of the strange super powers that I have (Along with finding thing. Seriously, I can find anything, it’s creepy..)

It feels good to tend to the chickens. I love observing them, watching as they interact with one another. Listening to the different sounds each one makes according to what it is they are encountering. I absolutely adore watching them dust themselves, which is their form of bathing –but in dirt. The way they fluff up all of their feathers and burrow themselves into the earth.

Here are some random fun facts on chickens.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chickens-are-cool-50-chicken-facts-you-will-love

And here is an interesting article on the social behavior of chickens.

http://www.upc-online.org/thinking/social_life_of_chickens.html

 

I look forward to spending as much time with them as possible.

My gorgeous little feathered friends.

 

 

do you have grubs ?

 

I just watched this one-hour documentary called the Private Life of Chickens on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c06xOF4uQ8

I really enjoyed watching it and felt it was actually really important to do so, because chickens and their eggs are such an important part of our diet for most of us and of our culture as well (I come from France and the rooster is the animal symbol of the country for instance) that we should know who they are.  In fact, most of us know next to nothing about chickens (me included until not so long ago). In our society we are so used to treat animals as objects for our own use that we have forgotten to treat them ‘humanely’ or should I say ‘chickenly’, meaning as very smart, highly social creatures that deserve at least our attention and respect.

Of course, I was inspired by the chickens at the farm. I just love watching them, observing their behavior and interacting with them.

I can sincerely say that every animal or plant species that I get to know make my life more full. I am always inspired by other life forms and by our relationship with them, and I always get to learn something new from them. I don’t know how to explain it, I feel that we gain so much in interacting with non-human beings. It is like I am more of myself with all these creatures around. It is like I cannot be fully human without other life forms…

Ok, some pix!

 

the peas are growing

 

Elinor inspirational meals

 

A Christmas fairy tale: “Katie and the Giant Cabbage”

 

delicious honey

This week all the interns rotated tasks and we are now on with learning a whole set of  tasks for the last weeks of the internship. Krysta and I are now learning about harvesting. Yet because it is now winter and veggies are stretching their maturity time, the pace is rather slow and we can enjoy the lazy winter sun rays as we direct the growing pea shoots around the treillis.

We are also in charge now of setting up gopher traps. While I understand the necessity of keeping the gophers out (they eat the roots of plants and leave them to die), I am not a fan of setting up the traps! So I started to investigate what other options exist out there to keep the gophers out. What I don’t like about the traps is that they don’t necessarily kill the animal right away. Very fortunately, we very rarely catch gophers. In fact, since we started our internship in September, I don’t think that we have caught any – which is another reason why I would like to help with investigating alternative ways that would be both more efficient and possibly avoid killing the gophers.

Here is what I found after reading through different sources:

First, some basic information about gophers’ life history:

They are solitary and territorial, which means that unlike prairie dogs who live in communities, we are probably dealing with only a few individuals, if not just one.

There are several methods to keep them away. Some we could try at the farm:

  • Repellents are ideal since they keep the animal away. However we would need to make sure to use a non-toxic repellent for humans, like cayenne peppers, cinnamon or hot peppers placed into their tunnels. Gophers do not like the smell of these things and will avoid it.
  • Some solar powered vibration devices send sonic waves into the tunnels which also keep them away. There is the possibility however that they might get used to it.
  • Building an 18 to 24 inch deep fence around the farm. That sounds though like an extreme solution, one that is costly and work intensive – especially since these animals are smart creatures and they might end up finding their way through anyway…
  • Live traps seem to be another good option: catching live gophers and releasing them somewhere else. They would have to be released 10 to 15 miles away, and in the forest preferably (away from other gardens and agricultural fields)
  • And last, if none of that works, maybe we should use traps with a cleaner kill, like the Cinch Surface trap which kills the gopher instantly.

Here is my humble contribution for now, I will keep exploring….

 

Some of this week beautiful creatures:

Farmers’ Note

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

During my time at the Navdanya Farm in India, I always heard farmers talking about how they woke up long before the sun came up. One week while I was there, a group of farmers came to stay at the farm for an Organic Farming Training the farm was hosting. The farmers all stayed in the room next time mine. Around 4am, I was woken up by noise from outside, and found all the farmers milling around outside, taking walks and drinking chai. I remember laughing, thinking how funny it was that all these guys were drinking chai so early in the morning/ I also remember thinking that these were true farmers; the early risers, ready to meet the soil as soon as the sun peaked through.

When I began growing food several years ago, it was this story that always made me feel a bit like an impostor farmer, because I couldn’t get up early enough in the morning. This year, I feel like I have finally started to develop this characteristic farmer trait. I can easily wake up before the sun rises, get myself ready, and be out the door toward the farm. I definitely feel a bit of pride at this new development, even if it took me 5 years to develop it.

Still, as the days have grown shorter, I find the darkness finally has a hold on me. The last few weeks, I have found it progressively harder to shake myself out of bed in the morning on Wednesday to get to the farm early and start the CSA harvest. Nevertheless, I woke up today in complete darkness, went out to feed the chickens in darkness, and got my farm gear on before the sun even began to peak out a bit of light. While that’s pretty good, I’m going to make it my resolution to wake up a bit earlier next year to fully earn the title of Farmer. Maybe by this time next year, you’ll find me drinking chai with the chickens at 4am.

Until next time,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Stunning carrots

Farmer Manju washes beet greens.

Morning dew falls on sugar snap peas.

A hard-working compost pile.

Farmer Rishi teaches a Farmer training class about water cycles.

Misty mornings.

Farmer Trainee’s Journal
This week’s CSA Box

(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)

Notes for This Week’s Box
beet greens can be eaten just like swiss chard. Try it!

Large Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch red mustard greens
– 1 bunch collards
– 1 large head bok choy or yukina savoy
– 1  bag of sugar snap peas
– 1 bunch fingerling potatoes from Weiser Family Farms
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch Napa cabbage

Herbs:
– 1 bunch chives
– 1 bunch parsley

Fruit:
– 1 lb pomegranate
– 1 lb apples

Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch beets (eat the leaves like swiss chard)
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch daikon * not pictured
– 1 large head yukina savoy or bok choy
– 1 delicata or other assorted squash
– 1 bunch napa cabbage

Herbs:
– 1 bunch cilantro

Fruit:
– 1 lb apples

Storage Instructions

Leafy Vegetables
In case your greens are wilted by the time you pickup your box, please follow these instructions:

– Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
– Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
– Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
– Leave the greens in the bowl overnight and by morning they should be rehydrated

Wrap your rehydrated greens in a towel and store the in the fridge. Summer greens like water spinach, moringa, and yam leaves don’t last long either way, so eat those as soon as you can.

Herbs
The best way to store your herbs so that they keep longer is to cut the stems a little and place them in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Cover the leaves loosely with a bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Replace the water inside when it gets cloudy. This works great with basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and many other herbs.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us and also any storing tips you may have. 🙂

How time flies when you are having fun!  It was just yesterday when the air was so hot and we were  sweating all day trying to find some shade while working.  Now into winter, we feel the chill of the air and dryness from the cold.  Most of us here are relieved and continuously giving thanks for a break from the oppressive heat.  The farm keeps on ticking and producing so many delights.  There have been new radishes, napa cabbage, kale, chard, sweet peas, diakon radishes, parsley, basil, mint, and many tasty lettuces harvested over the weeks.  Seeds are being planted and trellises are coming down.   The natural rhythm of life hums on.

Our gentle sweet qualls had there last stay at the farm and a feast was lovingly enjoyed last week.  The chickens are doing great, producing eggs continuously.  A few of the chickens are molting with the onset of fewer daylight hours.  Molting is when the chicken sheds its feathers and stops producing eggs during this time to give it more energy to make new feathers.  This process happens in cycles throughout the life of the chicken as is appropriate to its age and the weather.  Molting helps the integrity of the feathers and keeps chickens warmer in colder weather.

 

Needless to say our farm chickens have grown on me in the past weeks.  I think of them and worry for them as the longer days come when we are not there on the weekends.  But rest assured they have a wonderful loving life at the farm and proceed to bring nutritious eggs and lots of love to anyone who sees them.

It feels as though time is quickening it’s pace.

Throughout these last few months Sarvodaya farms has become a sacred space for me.

And what a necessary space it is for one to have. A space to exist naturally, where you are encouraged to share, and ask. Where you are welcomed to express all of your seemingly odd interests and aspirations. A space with the right balance of understanding and diversity for one to freely change, grow, and evolve.

This space is my church,

and I pray to the Earth with hands caked in soil.

I will write more specifically about things that I have learned, things of relative interest, etc., soon.

For now, here are some moments that I found worth capturing.

Our little Argiope friend.

Katie being a badass bee keeper –and human being, for letting me constantly bug her about helping.

Last Friday’s beautiful lunch before Nutrition class, made and taught by the lovely Elinor.

Separating Amaranth seeds from the chaff.

Growing from one of Lynn’s beautiful compost piles.

Mutant Rampicante with an elongated stem that is attached in two separate places.

My favorite girls.

Vibrant CSA salad boxes.

Beautiful girl dusting herself.

Long beans in love.

Albino Preying Mantis.

Heat stress in November.

Harvest days.

Gorgeous daikon.

The magical land of Sarvodaya Farms.

Baby beets, aching to be planted.

Long bean spirals are some of my favorite things that exist.

Just swooning over this giant cabbage.

The sight of a newly made bed.

Tiny leaves growing on a Red Russian kale leaf.

This little Australorp my favorite.