Category: Farmers Journal

Sabriel has not been wanting to be interviewed lately and we are respecting his wishes.

He continues to enjoy the farm, asking excitedly every day, “Is it a farm day?” and when it is, hopping out of bed, eager and purposeful.

He bounces around from team to team throughout the day, and likes to help wherever he can. He also assumes his own activities.  Here he is washing the oranges he has foraged from the fruit to be composted. He washes the oranges then shares them with all interns.  (The other day he even brought an orange from home for Melissa because she had admired an orange he brought the day previous. )

He tends to prefer the chicken team and spends alot of time with them!

He has been watching the Romanesco grow nearly as tall as him!  We are looking forward to watching it burst into seed production.

This week on the farm we built a shade structure. It was a week long process.  Monday we did the math to figure out how long the poles needed to be.

Then we got to work cutting them with a hand saw. Once we had finished we began assembling.  It took us a couple tries to figure out why the structure’s top was slanted, but once we figured it out it went pretty fast…until we asked manju if it was too wide.

On our second go, after we had adjusted the length accordingly, it went a lot faster and by the end of the day we had finished the frame.  So we popped on the shadecloth and mounted the poles.

Friday went alot faster since we already had the measurements and knew how to do it. By 10:30 we had finished and mounted it.  We then connected the gap between the two structures to make them one. After that, since we still had time, we dug up the tree in the nursery and moved it to the raised bed with the flowers. It was a productive week and I definitely enjoyed myself!!

!!

“Are plants intelligent?  Do they have consciousness?  Awareness?”

 

Back in January, when I first began this internship, if you would have asked me any of the previous question I would have looked at you with a sort of cockeyed stare.  “Are plants intelligent?  Of course not!”  In my former way of thinking intelligence goes like this: people are intelligent, animals like dogs and cats have some intelligence depending on the species, and plants and intelligence don’t even belong in the same sentence.  Sure plants grow and produce fruit and seeds and they definitely have a cycle, but all of that is just a part of their genetic expression.  They don’t have any say in how that expression manifests.  Boy was I wrong.

Plants have feelings!!! No, no, no, I’m not saying they cry or anything (but honestly I’m not saying they don’t) Plants sense their surrounding environment they way any living being does.  For example on the farm,  many of the winter greens have began to bolt in anticipation of the warmer weather to come.  Each season they have different expressions, because each season they respond to the volume of rain, the amount of sunlight and the temperatures in the air.  They are supremely intelligent, and I would argue much more intelligent than the domesticated animals that live at my house.  In my time at the farm I have seen how all life, animals and plants, are both supremely intelligent and aware.  My idea of this world is shifting as I start to see intelligence filling everything around me.

 

Yikes! It has been awhile since I posted something. School, work and the internship has kept me very busy but I think I finally am getting into the groove of things. Hmm so what’s new? Well I started a tractor driving course at Mt. San Antonio college. I learned about different tractors and got to drive one. Oh and I learned how to use a clutch! When I first learned how to use a clutch it was in a intro motorcycle driving 3 day course. I caught on pretty quickly but I was still pretty clumsy on the motorcycle. In my mind I really thought that I was going to get the certificate of completion and be on my way to the dmv to get a motorcycle license. Unfortunately, on the third day those dreams got shattered. The instructor designed the course so that the trainees could practice how to go left and right on the motorcycle? I think was trying to make a left turn but instead I cranked the throttle and blanked out on how to stop the bike. So I was literally driving myself in full speed to a pile of rocks ahead of me. I crashed and luckily the only injuries I sustained was a small gash on the knee and my right toenail ripped off. But, hey! Other than that I was A OK!

A couple of weeks ago I became part of the nursery team. At the same time my nursery management class began and I learned a bit about Luther Burbank. The city of burbank is named after him and he was a pioneer in agricultural science. He created the Russet Burbank potato which has become the world’s predominant potato in food processing. He was really good friends with Thomas Edison and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. I also learned a bit about Kate Sessions who created Balboa Park in San Diego.

Well I hope everyone had a great week! I will see everyone on the farm tomorrow! Have a great night!

A few weeks ago I moved from animal team to the nursery. While I was bummed to say goodbye to the chickens, I was eager to learn how to grow plants from seed. I’d say I have mild success in not killing plants, but sorely lack in helping them grow and thrive. It’s been a learning experience, to say the least! For starters, who knew such little pockets of soil could hold so much water? Now all I can think of are my poor houseplants gasping for a drink.

So far, planting seeds feels like a delicate process. Making little holes for the seeds, but not too deep or not too shallow, filling the holes with vermiculite so they can be covered but easily push their way through, gently watering with a sprinkling (not misting) stream three times a week. It can be a lot to remember for a gardening/farming novice!

This past week we focused on building a canopy for the nursery. In the morning we started with a pile of pipes and joints, and by the end of the week we had the nursery tables neatly covered with 30% shade cloth! It was incredibly satisfying to do a little math (can’t say I’ve used that part of my brain in a while), cut a bunch of metal pipes, and finally put together a simple framework to hold up the shade cloth. With the temperatures quickly warming up (I can’t believe it’s already hit 90 degrees!), this shade will be nice not only for the little plant babies growing up, but for myself and the fellow nursery team to work under in the following weeks.

Shortly after my first nutrition course with Elinor, I went home and decided to make something with soaked whole wheat flour. Elinor mentioned during our delicious meal that soaking whole grain flours aids in the digestion process. Soaking also softens the outer hull, making for a more tender crumb. After spotting a pair of beyond-speckled bananas on my countertop, I knew they were destined for soaked whole wheat banana bread. Chika and Tyler were both satisfied taste testers, so I thought I would share the recipe here.

Soaked Whole Wheat Banana Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup yogurt
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup melted butter
2 bananas
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, milk, and yogurt just until no dry lumps remain. Cover with a plate or plastic wrap and let rest on the countertop for 12-24 hours.

When your flour has completed soaking, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining ingredients until smooth. Add egg mixture to the soaked flour mixture and mix until combined. Grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper then pour batter into pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top has begun to brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

This week my team and me have gotten the hang a little bit with the chickens. I am now way more comfortable catching the chickens. It is also getting much easier to catch the chickens and putting them back in the coops. The older white chickens seem to be the ones who give us a hard time. I think the chickens are also getting used to going in and out of the coops. Hopefully by the following weeks the chickens can get better at being rounded up.

This week the weather was warmer than I’ve been used to. It felt like summer was already here. I have to say it wasn’t the easiest. But it is all about listening to your body and making sure you have drank enough water, or if you need to sit down for a bit, or if you just need a moment to cool down. I had to remind my self to do this since I end to just push though sometimes just to get things done.

This week I was able to have some time off work and stayed for the Friday food and nutrition class. Let me just say the food was not only phenomenal it was such a great experience being able to sit with my fellow peers and share the wonderful meal together. I enjoyed sitting across everyone and take in the “mmm” energy.

Now to the food: First of all I’d like to thank those who helped prepare such a lovely spread, the food was laid out in such a lovely way I didn’t know what to chose first. I liked the way Eleanor broke down each entre and side dish to us. It was also nice to know how everything was prepared and what was included in each dish. It was also great to see the different types of dishes prepared for those who ate meat, those who were vegan, and vegetarians. The more options, the more things I could try! Each dish felt like it was planed out so clever and complimented each other. Great job team!

It was such a reward to look forward to at the end of the week and a great start to my weekend.

This Wednesday we discussed having purpose when designing our garden and/or farm.  This makes sense, because you won’t know how/when/what to plant if you don’t have a plan and some needed intention behind it all.

Rishi said something I thought was amusing.  He gave us a little exercise to do in which we were to imagine what would be our intention for our gardens.

“If you have a space, think of what you would want in that space.  And I guess if you don’t currently have a space for farming or gardening, then you can create a magical garden in your minds”

– I loved that-

 

Every thing is created from some intention, and who is to say that my (or anyone’s) magical garden can’t one day be a real thing.  So I’m going to imagine pretty hard.  (And maybe you should too!)

For starters this garden is filled with fruit trees- avocados, mangos, papaya, apricots and my personal favorite figs.  Its a meditative and healing garden with greens growing in spirals rather than rows.  It’s a garden that is so attractive to birds that some would even call it a bird sanctuary because of all of the tropical birds that perch in the trees.  Since water is healing and therapeutic, I would also have a small pond that gets shaded every summer by the tall trees that surround it.

The best thing about this garden is that you are ALL welcome to it…but I might need an investor first!

Since starting the farming program I’ve started looking at things differently. The produce in the grocery store are not just healthy food sources but living, breathing plants tended to by the (hopefully) caring hand of a farmer somewhere. The manicured lawns in my neighborhood bring visions of plant beds and moist, fluffy soil. Every patch of green is just a farm waiting to happen.

When I was writing my application for the Farmer-in-Training program I wrote about my desire to help build infrastructure for communities to increase food sovereignty, sustainability, and cooperative living. I’ve often joked to Rishi that I’m a nomad, without a stable housing situation to make my personal farm dreams happen at the moment. But I am happy to report that I am making good on my commitment to take my farming skills into my community!

My friends have just moved into a new home in Mount Washington and I am helping them set up their garden and compost system. The biggest challenge is their house is on a lot of land that is entirely paved over. We decided to try and build a two feet deep wooden box along the perimeter of the fence with a trellis behind it. Then there’s the problem of drainage: how do we make sure that the water doesn’t get trapped at the bottom causing all sorts of yucky anaerobic respiration? Rishi recommended that we put gaps in the bottom of the wooden box, and then have a layer of gravel to make sure the soil doesn’t get washed away.

Here’s a quick link I found for how to build your own planter box on concrete: https://verdancedesign.blogspot.com/2009/03/q-planter-boxes-on-concrete.html

Meanwhile I’m getting started on setting up their compost system and paying close attention to which vegetables we’re starting to plant for the spring. Excited to share the progress of this project with everyone!