When I first started the nursery team, I was admittedly not terribly excited. I grew up thinking I did not have a green thumb and now I had to grow them from seed? It seemed a little boring, like watching grass grow, to be honest (sorry Rishi!!). Now that our six week term has ended I’m a little sad to go. There were so many parts of the nursery that were unexpectedly satisfying and meditative. Watching the different ingredients of potting soil get mixed together, soaking and breaking up a block of coconut coir (seriously fun stuff), sifting a bin full of Lynn’s compost, and even the seemingly never-ending process of watering all the pots and seedlings could put me in a contemplative state. Even the smell of fish fertilizer became a part of our routine, though I can’t say I’ll be sad leaving that behind. It also helped that being in the nursery worked with my natural inclination to tasks that require attention to detail, like putting a single seed in each cell with an indentation measured to the correct fraction of an inch depth.
From feeling apprehensive and clueless to gradually gaining confidence as plantings grew, it dawned on me that I may not have a black thumb! Perhaps this whole time I didn’t have the right tools to put me in the right direction, like the nutrient rich compost, ample water, and a healthy dose of sunlight. The seeds have sprouted, they’ve been lovingly watered, and they will soon be planted into beds as we move along to the fields team. We will no longer be under the luxurious shade cloth but I’m excited to transplant and watch the plants grow to their full size.
Sunday, for Spring Equinox, we went to the local trail. It was so cool to see all the plants in full bloom. We harvested chickweed, mallow, wild radish and nettle. And took them home to eat. All these things are also growing everywhere at the farm.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the definition of a weed is just ‘a plant that is unwanted somewhere.’ In our family, we eat the edible wild plants (what others call weeds). They are actually very nutritious. And if you prepare them the right way, they can be tasty too. For instance, we took the nettle (that we harvested with gloves on) and sauteed it in coconut oil. It develops this crispy, buttery flavor that is very tasty!
I was surprised when we started at the farm how uncomfortable it was for me to squat and plant seedlings in the fields. So honestly, when I moved to the field team I was worried…but also ready for a challenge. Recently, I have been very inspired by John Robbins’ book “Healthy at 100” which challenges our limited views of aging and explores features of centenarian culture, including; plant centered (but not vegan) eating, exercise through lifestyle (i.e .farming and walking), community, rest, balance. Before this, I was starting to consider myself ‘old’ at 42 and settle for limited physical ability. After reading the book, I am embracing an attitude of youthfulness and seeking every opportunity to incorporate exercise in my life.
So with that in mind, when Katie asked me to plant this entire seed tray of cilantro, although I freaked out a bit internally, I breathed into it. I should mention, I have an injured muscle behind my right knee that makes it even harder to squat/kneel. So I paced myself. Usually, when we plant a bed, it is with a few of us and the many hands make light work. But this time, it was just me. Though it really was a challenge, I felt proud of myself when I was finished, and relished another opportunity to grow out of patterns of ease and inactivity into purposeful, wholesome action.
You can’t get me to walk a treadmill or go for a run…but I will gladly rake, garden, shovel mulch…and now ‘plant seedlings.’ All of these forms of exercise that are connected to the earth, and include the sensual experience of the earth…hands in soil, woodsy scent of mulch, beauty of all plant and insect life, satisfaction of being part of the earth’s innate processes….are fun and therapeutic forms of exercise; my kind of bootcamp.
I’m hoping in time, to be able to squat like Manju and Chika 😉
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.
Its been awhile.
The hardest part about creativity is keeping it over time. Even as I think about what genuine creativity is, I realize that some of the most creative parts of life aren’t recognized as such. Truly, the most creativity any person can have starts with that person being themselves. I’m confident that I am not alone in this – I have and will spent a majority of my life not being fully true to myself. Perhaps it is impossible for somebody to be fully true to themselves, yet we have every opportunity to try our best. And so I reach this conclusion – glory comes not always in the achievement, though it can still be had in our attempts (Anyways, I’ll stop getting off topic now). Lately, I’ve put so much focus on letting the unimportant things go. I’ve spent so much time reconsidering who I am in the midst of my surroundings. Ultimately, I’ve just decided to smile more. All of that said, I am getting better at capturing the fullness of my days, and taking joy in my efforts.
Creativity actually has very little to do with paintbrushes and poems and pictures. Creativity is about living in the right frame of mind, which starts by making every moment joyful. I understand that some times are harder than others, but if you can find something to be thankful for, something to look forward to, and simply something to laugh about, you’ve truly found creative genius.
On the farm, creativity is watering seeds, patiently waiting for them to germinate, wrestling the slivers of doubt as you wonder if you even put seeds in your plug tray, and bursting with excitement as the first leaves burst through the ground.
Creativity is chasing the chicken through their run, excited to hold one in your arms, and entertaining yourself over what the chicken might be thinking as you meet them eye to eye.
Creativity is living – every single day.
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:)
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.
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: