Tough hands are tender too;
Grazing the dust of day,
And melting the frost by her fingertips.
Swales become of her footsteps
And palms pressed to the dirt,
But she will mulch again.
The aching half-acre,
Reaching to the King,
Is honored by the harvest.
Is it by twink’ling blade
Or tumbling sparrow?
She knows the time of glory:
To draft from beds the ready greens,
To send to hungry souls afar;
To set kindness at the table.
O, how the clouds descend to greet her!
And every time I leave the farm,
A pearl is heard laughing in the distance–
And I smile.
Hello beautiful people! This week marks the end for our group to be dubbed the animal team. When I first started working with the chickens I absolutely loathed the task. This was primarily due to what I thought about chickens. But, after weeks of interacting and observing the chickens they began to grow on me. Each chicken has their own personality and beauty that it is hard not to love them after a couple of weeks. I think that they are beautiful animals and I have gained a greater appreciation for their existence on this wonderful planet. Interning at Sarvodaya has really opened my eyes in a way where little by little I am able to see the big picture of why things are the way they are.
The word that comes to my mind when I think about this week is separation. On Wednesday’s lecture, Rishi touched upon what is natural and what is unnatural. The very idea that we as a species need to separate the idea of what we think is life just shows how out of touch we are with reality. This is due to our society having a reductionist point of view. Reductionism is focusing on the parts not the whole. For example, in order to understand the animal cell we need to focus on the atoms and molecules that make up the cell. On the other hand, holism focuses on “the big picture” instead of its constituent elements. Reductionism certainly has its pros and without the analytic-reductionist thought we would not have many things that we have today. Unfortunately, we have applied this thought to people, livestock, countries, cultures etc. Is it not time that we step back and think that the word animal refers to US and other species of animals? That a pig is not a livestock but a pig? Furthermore, we have the black, asian, latino communities when in fact we are just one big community! Countries are literally just huge communities! We have this “us vs. them” mentality and it really distorts reality and our minds. I hope all of us one day can see the bigger picture. In my opinion, the solution is we just need to be in nature. Whether it be by hiking or poking a stick in dirt surrounded by beautiful plants we just need to be out with mother nature. In fact, mother nature did not design us to be stuck inside a building looking at a computer screen all day. We are animals and we should be with mother nature like our ancestors did.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
― Jane Goodall
Life is a roller coaster. Not only is it a roller coaster, but its a roller coaster that you have never been on. Its a roller coaster that is seemingly always under construction and whose sealtbelts come unfastened during the upside down loop. Life is messy. As much as life can get in the way of MY life, I have the upmost respect and awe of it, because life has perfected survival. Life has figured out how to continue to exist, how to bend with the constant evolutions that take place on this planet. Life has survived because life continues to evolve, to change and to adjust. It’s not stubborn and its not fixed on one thing.
One of the greatest things that working on the farm has taught me is to have an open mind. To take in everything and then to decide for myself what I think to be right or best. This week Rishi challenged the way we look at the Natural world vs the Unnatural world. By the end of the discussion he concluded, and we all agreed, that everything that is in this world is natural, because it comes from the world. Even the craziest chemical concoctions are still chemicals that are found on the planet. Concrete has the same effect as the exploding and cooling magma from a volcano. It was good to begin to see the earth this way, to see that there is no separation between natural/unnatural or between other/us or myself.
So wherever you find yourself on the ride, just remember to tap into the evolutionary part of your DNA that is prompting you to adapt. Its reminding you to bend and not be so rigid. Even our enemies are more like us than we think just like the unnatural is the natural, just misunderstood.
This week marked the end of our first trimester of training on the farm. I have been assigned to the “fields” team for these first few weeks. My team next moves to either “animals” or “nursery” as our focus, and another team will take our place on “fields.” I guess it’s only fitting that on Friday, my last day on “fields,” my team (all 2 of us present that day: me and Maya) walked the fields with Farm Manager Manju. Manju had Maya and I walk the field by ourselves first, with the purpose of taking mental notes of what we saw that needed attention. Then we walked the fields together with Manju who pointed out to us things we missed and some we actually noticed on our own. We kept stopping and wanting to take care of things that needed attention along the way, but Manju repeatedly urged us to “keep moving” so we could complete our walk of the fields. We did manage to do some partial tasks along the way, just so we would know how to do them in the future. We moved parts of an old watering system, filled in the end of a bed, and the usual picking of weeds and dead leaves. But the main thing we did was compile a growing mental list of “things to do and look for on the farm.” Maya and I both agreed that it was our biggest day of learning and it was a bit overwhelming. I think walking the fields served to put all the pieces together that we have been learning separately, plus it added some pieces we had not previously learned.
The ultimate take home for me is that observation and work are the most crucial tasks performed by a successful farmer. The title of my post is “The Radishes Are Ready” because one of Manju’s most important observations on our field walk was that the radishes were ready to come out immediately or many would split open over the weekend since there was rain predicted. (Oh yeah and a farmer also needs to be aware of the weather forecast.) Since the radishes were a high priority, we picked the ones that needed to be picked. These were generally the ones that were starting to bolt, were of a larger size, needed thinning due to overcrowding, and the ones that were literally sitting on top of the soil asking to be picked. I’m glad we were able to save them since they make gorgeous food (plus they match Manju’s jacket).
After the farm day was over, we shared another locally sourced meal prepared by Elinor and the former interns around this table. At the end of the day, I have mixed emotions about passing the torch to the new fields team because I’m only just starting to learn myself. Farewell fields, gophers, cabbage worms, mulch mountain, enzyme wash, not actually so smelly compost…I’ll miss you all while I’m busy tending to the nursery and the animals!
Two Wednesdays ago, Chika, Carolina, and I were appointed salad team. Harvesting, washing and drying, and assembling salad mixes is our task to complete for the CSA boxes. Some mornings the melting frost bites at our fingertips, but nevertheless we have a fun time from start to finish. It’s been such a joy putting the finishing touches on the boxes and garnishing with edible flower petals! They add so much color and excitement.
In addition to vibrance and nutrition, we learned that daikon radish pods (as well as their flowers) are edible when they’re young, and quite tasty! They add a light radish flavor with a bit of crunch. Just like everything else at Sarvodaya Farms, it’s been grown, harvested, and assembled with much love and care.
Hello Growing Club & CSA members!
I’m a little crunched for time today, since I have to prepare for a presentation tomorrow at the Farm Blitz Conference in Claremont. I did want to mention to everyone that The Growing Club received a wonderful award today from both the California Senate and California Assembly, recognizing our work in the field of waste management at our farm. As many of our know, our Composting Program at the farm diverted nearly 30,000 lbs of food waste from landfills last year. Compost Queen Lynn is truly a queen and we are so happy that her efforts are being recognized at a government level. I’ll be uploading some pictures of the award to our Instagram @thegrowingclub soon, so follow us and check it out! Enjoy your fresh produce this week, the radishes are really delicious!
Until next time,
Founder/Director, The Growing Club
(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)
Notes for This Week’s Box
– 2 lbs assorted citrus fruit (Blood oranges and lemons from Sweet Tree Farms)
– 1 bunch cilantro
– 1 lb assorted citrus fruit (Blood oranges and lemons from Sweet Tree Farms)
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
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. 🙂
Jennifer’s Ayurveda Tip
Winter is considered vata season. Winter means dampness, cold, wind, and dryness these conditions can imbalance your constitution. To pacify and balance your body you can eat heavier, oilier, and a more substantive diet. Favor sweet, sour, and salty foods. Eating seasonal vegetables that are well cooked, warm soft foods, that are well spiced will help keep you balanced.
At the farm there is so much fresh air; yes, the literal air which is lovely and then there are the awesome people. I so enjoy learning about every person that was drawn to Sarvodaya and find their thoughtfulness and insight so reFRESHing. This makes sense of course, because my work for the last twenty years has consisted of listening to people’s stories, and I am always captivated. Outside of counseling, my children will tell you that everywhere I go, I also “interview” people.
In fact, it is the primary way that I homeschool them; by modeling engagement and curiosity with the world and learning about our diverse population and how they live. (Ask them to tell you about when I interviewed the State Trooper who pulled us over one time!) At the farm, what feels like fresh air, is that I am talking with others who have contemplated many of the same things that I have and are taking action in their own ways, which I find both to be great company and inspiration. As well as, simply a DEEP breath, in a life that often gets full with motherhood, and to be honest, a bit suffocated in the OC.
While potting seedlings, planting seeds and mixing potting soil, Cindy, Cheryl and I covered a range of topics from veganism, cultural differences to raves. We all had different experiences and perspectives and great respect for each person’s uniqueness. Their LA vibe is palpable and it reminds me of all there is to experience, including this opportunity to really learn, hands on, how to gently transplant baby beets and kale, into bigger homes, loosening the roots, making their transition easier…how to mix just the right ingredients into a fresh and better than what you’d ever find in a store potting mix…and how to smooth not pat the freshly mixed potting soil and gently lay the seeds in tiny depresses.. learning by doing…alive and sinking into my bones with the hopes of our future mini homestead feeling more doable…FRESH AIR.
Wednesday, Lynn gave a great talk on composting…and even though we actually had a compost workshop at my home with her before, where we made piles, it was a much needed review. She gave a great off the cuff explanation with quick drawings of all of the invisible microbes that create and live in soil and how there are literally billions. I sat there thinking, there you go, the most amazing homeschool biology class coupled with deep hands on experience. As usual I sat there with immense gratitude that we are having this experience…FRESH AIR.
With Valentine’s the day before, I also thought of how in year’s past I have arranged to have horse poop or mulch delivered on Valentine’s or my birthday, unconsciously honoring how much dirt and the process of death and rebirth really makes me happy. I really love this shit. (is that okay to say here? pun intended :)) And thanks to Lynn, now I even know how to ensure decomposition smells like FRESH AIR!
What did you do with the shovel w Elinor? We rinsed it off…let it hang and then we put the wax on”
What did you use the shovel for? “compost.”
What did you do with the compost? “Sometimes we make it, sometimes we flip it, sometimes we move it, we do everything.”
What went into the compost? “Leaves, horse poop, brewer waste, fruit, that’s basically all”
(Lucas chimes in) Did you put sticks in it? “well yeah, at the bottom”
“We found some good oranges, they had stuff on them, but we rinsed them off and ate them”
Why are you making a compost pile? “because there is a pile of horse manure and we added that to the pile, now weeeeeerrrrrrreeeee just letting it sit there” (lots of giggles at extending the word, and tells me to specifically write it that way..then asks me to read it to him and is delighted with more giggles at how funny it is going to sound for everyone)
And what’s going to happen? Iiiiiiittttts gooooonnnnn tttoooo beeeee reeeadddy.” (“It’s going to be ready”— lots more giggles :)))
What do you mean ready?
“Like a ready pile… it’s ready to do whatever you want!”
Like plant seeds in? “Yeah or use it however!”
How did you like this week at the farm? “I liked it”
(“write ‘the end’ mom”)
On Monday I spent most of my time with the chickens. I helped out with getting the eggs, feeding, and putting them up. I also did some harvesting with Chika. We were harvesting spinach. I had a great time.
On Wednesday we couldn’t make it for the morning part but we came for the lesson about composting. I learned a lot from that lesson like how to make a compost pile and how to take care of it. And I am looking forward to learning some more!!!
On Friday we didn’t go to the farm because it was pouring and we didn’t want to be driving in the rain. I was disappointed but I didn’t want to be in the car in rain either.
This week at the farm has definitely been fun.
Monday: I had compost duty on Monday, so right when I got there I started on it. Traci and I were assigned to sifting the compost and storing it in the crates. First we would shovel some finished compost onto a sifter which we had set upon a wheelbarrow, then we would sift it into a wheelbarrow and take out the sticks that were left. We kept doing this until the wheelbarrow was full. Once it was full we would take an empty crate and fill it three inches with compost then we would sprinkle feathermeal on it, then another three inches of compost then we sprinkled kelp meal on it. We then did each of those steps one more time then we put the lid on the box, labeled it and then started on the next one. We did four of those. I also did some smaller jobs around the farm but that was the main thing that I did.
I also tried to eat a worm ( I spit it out) because Tyler said he would do it if I did, but that didn’t go so well
( they don’t taste great )but I’m glad I tried it…kind of…not really…no.
Wednesday: Unfortunately, because I have school on Wednesday, we didn’t make it until after eleven for the lesson, but I’m glad I came because I learned a lot about compost from Lynn.
Friday: Unfortunately, it rained on Friday and my dad used our truck so he could drive safely in the rain.. so we couldn’t come that day (shucks).