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:
Monday was presidents day so my dad had the day off and he decided to come to the farm. It was really cool having my dad there because one, I enjoyed having my whole family there and two, because it was fun knowing more than my dad.
Monday was a compost day for me so I started the day doing compost, we created a pile on Monday putting sticks at the bottom then doing layers of horse manure, brewery waste, leaves, and old citrus fruit it was very interesting and fun and I was sad that it would be my last day on compost 🙁
Wednesday we came to the farm and listened to the lecture by Rishi.
By the way, Rishi is a natural (sorry I forgot to never say natural) speaker.
On Friday, Tyler and I shoveled mulch:
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.
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!