This picture captures for me, the essence of my farm experience. Even though I tire of the suburban/urban landscape that I live in, as I walk around and capture with awe and stillness the many ways that spring is popping on the farm, I am overwhelmed by the energy and vibrance of beauty. And the power of what we focus on.
On Friday, Rishi gave a very thorough tour to visitors from South Central who were inspired by the farm. And it reminded me of how important it is to keep planting the seeds of peace, magic and beauty, rather than focus on or fight “what’s wrong.” Those seeds blossom, attract and inspire. Planting them feels like exactly the end of the system I want to be on.
The high vibration of these wild peas simply being their exquisite selves, effortlessly unfolding and shocking us with their riot of color, the wildly relentless and hardy weeds underneath…demonstrate the impulse for aliveness, nourishment and healing in us all.
This is why I connect gardening to healing and why my vision for our family and my work is to bring people into spaces like this…reconnecting to the deep longings and wisdom within us.
Like this below….people coming together over lovingly prepared food, feeling the warm, welcoming energy of community. A return to the sense of kindred community I often hear people long for without naming…
Sitting with everyone, in my favorite kind of kitchen (where crumbs are just tossed back to the earth), over delicious and nourishing food, my understanding is visceral.
These are the pieces, the seeds coming together, showing me their interconnectedness…
Every day at the farm, we are being given the tools and the model for making our vision a reality..and we are immensely grateful.
This week on the farm was our first week doing our nursery chores without any guidance from Rishi. It was really cool getting the fertilizer ready and the seedlings watered. This week we also got some seeds in a seed tray. We planted tomatoes, peppers and something else (I forgot ).
It was a lot of fun and I look forward to next time on the farm!
This week at the farm we demolished a mulch pile! We put mulch everywhere. We put some in the back where the chickens are, in the chicken run and behind it. We also added to the path that was being made on the left side of the farm.
Oh this week we let the chickens out! It’s been fun figuring out their personalities. I’ve already named six chickens including two of the black ones. There are Holly, Jackie, Falla…those are ones that Laurette helped me name. Then there is Sweetie, she’s the small bantam hen. Then there are Crowna and Calli, two black hens, Australorps.
On Friday, we had a feast and a book discussion with Elinor. I really liked the vegan tamale casserole!
I look forward to next week:)
This week my team switched to Field work and I am loving it. Manju is full of wisdom of the subtleties of plants and I am deeply enjoying learning alongside her. Every day I am at the farm, there is something new to learn; this is what a carrot looks like when it’s ready, these are signs of cats, these are signs of gophers, these seeds did not do well, this is how plants grow in winter versus summer. And I feel a surge of excitement in me. I knew that gardening made my heart sing and now I am experiencing more confirmation that being this close and working collaboratively with the earth, in community, is an intense passion of mine and brings me deep JOY.
I have been working through my resistance to allowing myself to have a great time at the farm. Growing up as a foster child, then working as a social worker, and now as a holistic counselor supporting many people of color facing systematic oppression, I am intensely aware of the need and heartache in the world. So much so, that sometimes it is hard for me to enjoy my wonderful life with my children and my deep happiness being at the farm. As a child that was passed up repeatedly, I unconsciously made a commitment to not look away from the pain of the world…but I am gently reminding myself that embracing and living into my JOY always allows me to be a nourished, rejuvenated, solid vessel of love with my family and all who come my way for support.
The other day the director of Ability First came to pick up greens that the farm donates to their program. She shared with me that she and the children at the center make soups, salads and stir fry’s with the farm produce. My heart felt full knowing that these children were getting the enjoyment AND nourishment of the farm’s bounty and all of the love, intention and growth that those plants facilitated. To me nutrition is inextricably linked to spiritual and psychological health, so I was extremely happy to hear this.
For years, when I feel overwhelmed by the hard realities and wish I could ‘save the world,’ I always remember a quote by Mother Theresa; “We can do no great things in this world. Only small things with great love.”
The issues are so complex. There are no simple solutions. But as I follow my yeses (discussed in a previous blog) I am understanding more of what she meant by GREAT LOVE. As I learn and soak in the vibrant energy of the farm, working with beautiful, thoughtful people…my heart swells more and more each day. And this fullness WIDENS my experience of LOVE within and without..it feels great as in bigger..and great as in GREAT! I am so grateful to all who help hold and create this amazing experience. And I am trusting that this ever expanding heart is doing her small part.
On Monday we switched stations. Field went to chickens. Chickens went to nursery. Nursery went to field. I was a little sad at first because I was learning and enjoying being on the field but I also was really excited to go to the chicken station. We also changed compost team and I am on it this time!
On Friday, we mulched the chicken area and while we were mulching we got to talk to each other. I learned more about what everyone does for a living. I liked getting to know more about everyone.
I was also excited because I was thinking about adopting some of Rishi’s older chickens.
A few weeks ago we found out that the chickens were going to go to Rishi’s house to be slaughtered. Lucas, Sabi and I were talking to Brooke about it and she said that they had said she could take Aussie (the chicken) because they saw that Brooke had a special bond with Aussie. But she was sad because she didn’t have any place to keep Aussie. So I offered to see if we could take Aussie, because we have eight chickens already. I asked my mom and she said that was fine, but she would talk to Pearl about it and maybe we should take more than one chicken so Aussie would have a friend. Also it’s important to have more than one chicken when introducing new chickens to a big flock. Pearl said yes and we arranged to get them today.
So after the farm, we headed to Rishi and Pearl’s house…but along the way we stopped at an India Sweet and Spices store and Pearl showed us all of the different spices that she suggested we have so as she mentions a recipe, we will have the correct spices for Indian cooking. (My mom has been asking her for recipes). After this, we went to her house and had a delicious Indian lunch. I watched her cook lentil papad and display the other food.
Then we went out to the chickens. We decided that we would get three! Sabi chose Aussie, I chose Falouf and Penguin. My mom wanted to get another one but we couldn’t fit another one in the carrier that we had brought.
I was surprised that they were very quiet during our drive home. I kept forgetting that we had chickens in the back. When we got home, we let them roam in our backyard until it was night. Then we put them in the carrier and brought it inside so they could sleep. We are not putting them into the coop yet because we need to introduce them to our chickens slowly. Because chickens have a pecking order, the older chickens might pick on the new ones and fight.
Rishi’s lecture busting apart the false dichotomy of natural vs. unnatural and all of the dogmas that it spawns, was refreshing and a great reminder. I certainly have a tendency to go there, simply because what is earth based, commonly called ‘natural’ resonates for me and in many cases for children, actually does facilitate noticeably better outcomes. However, I’ve learned and am always relearning that dogmatic approaches aren’t helpful.
I remember when I was trying to not feed my children any GMO’s and I found myself getting angry at well meaning people who offered my children GMO food… Or angry at someone who offered me food in plastic and foam when I was trying to be zero waste…. this is a mix of the dogma which creates angst that Rishi was talking about and messy boundary setting. Even though I would sometimes lose my way in this…I ultimately would come back to my own recognition of the incongruence of this with my desire to be loving and peaceful in my choices.
For me it’s not about whether or not I say natural but what my intention is when I do (which I think is essentially Rishi’s point too). Often in my work, I will talk about ‘who is running the show.’ If our wounded/ego/defense, what I call ‘teenager self,’ is doing the yoga, meditation, healthy eating or whatever, then we are prone to being dogmatic, narrow minded, pretentious, judgmental, because it is essentially a fearful, controlling energy and behavior (designed to protect us immaturely). If our higher self/loving adult self is running the show, we tend to be more open, curious, generous of spirit, and accepting of differences…seeing the bigger picture from a place of love and compassion, or at least glimpses of it (i.e. accepting creation/growth/birth AND death/destruction). From the latter place, I can see the sweet intention of the person offering my children something and simply thank them.
It still is definitely a role of my loving self to set boundaries/limits on things that are not harmonious, as Rishi would say. And to speak up and advocate for those for whom these choices are not theoretical. But what his talk and literally every experience on the farm reminds me is that instead of focusing on what I don’t want or taking a major stance…a simpler way to create what I do want and reduce dogma and angst, is to focus on my “Yeses.”
I choose an interconnected web over weak systems. I choose what feels deeply good. I choose my own happiness and liberation (even when I question it, or it feels uncomfortable). I choose Sabi running around on the farm with glee, Maya expressing her leadership, Lucas getting to explore his physical strength. Sabi saying yesterday “I can’t wait till we have our own farm!!” Laughing and chatting with all of the thoughtful, passionate and caring people at the farm. All of the many possibilities we would never have known if I had not followed the longing of my heart singing YES!
Every step we have taken into this less traditional life that we enjoy, has been a path of Yeses that I could not have foreseen. And that is the seed I want to keep ‘watering’ with my attention and energy.
What did you do today? “Today we did compost and we dug a deep hole and put a pipe in it, put concrete in it, then we put a little bit more rocks by the house, then we put dirt over it, then we made it flat, then we tested it.”
How did you test it? “ Elinor dumped some water out. I thought it would go into the pipe and come out!”
Who did you do all this with? “My dad”
How did you like having dad there? “It was fun!”
“We also trimmed some lettuce with Maya and Chika.
“that’s all mom. write ‘the end’ mom”
What are you doing in this picture?
“Why this mom?”
“Getting all the wood chips out”
“Why do I have to do some of my blog mom?”
Did you find anything else in there?
“No just wood chips”
What did you make with Elinor this week?
“pickled carrots and pickled onions and pickled ginger”
“Ginger Ale!” (joking)
What else did you put in there to make the pickle?
“water, Ginger Ale! (joking), salt, white salt and black salt”
How did you like making your own pickle?
“It was fun!”
Do you like pickled veggies?
“How many ginger ales are on there mom?
“Ginger ale! Ginger ale! Ginger ale, Ginger ale, Ginger ale, Ginger ale (and on and on)
On Monday my dad came to the farm. It was cool to have my whole family there. On Wednesday we came for the lecture that Rishi gave. On Friday only Laurette and I were there from our team.We also found out that it was our last day on the field station. Laurette and I walked the fields with Manju. We went through all the fields and checked out all the plants. This week has been the best last week on the field station.
Also while me and chica were harvesting lettuce one time, we made up a radio station called whoo 37.1. and we would interview each other about what we were doing. So we decided that we should interview other interns. This week I interviewed Laurette, but the file is too big so we can’t upload it here. I’m going to try and edit it.
In Elinor’s fermentation class, we got to make our own fermented pickles. It was very cool being able to pick what was going to go in your jar. The only thing was that the onions made me go blind!
Oh also after the class that Elinor gave on fermentation, we stayed there for a while and I buried myself in the mulch and here’s a picture: