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This week I’ve noticed that some of my nursery seedlings are wilting. It’s just too hot. I give them more water and they totally dried out. No matter how much more, the water just gets sucked up into the air and just never sinks in. We feed them with water only once in the morning three times a week and then they get misted at set times in between. I’ve been thinking about water use more in the last few weeks because of Rishi’s explanation of water conservation and how to Use Water More (that once) if you really want to conserve it. And then I thought of my farm partner, Angelita, and how she made it through a full month of observing Ramadan while working on the farm. She pulled off not drinking a drop of water for the whole day, each and every day.  In a way, these nursery seedlings are observing perpetual Ramadan. Provisions (or liquids in this case) must be consumed at only certain times of day and, like Angelita, they probably feel super parched and they’ve really gotta dig deep and hold it in until we can buy them a round of shots. Angelita could have cheated and just bathed in a few misty mouthfuls, as we are parched in the nursery, but she didn’t. She and those tiny seedlings are duking it out in the nursery, training themselves to live without, exercise survival of the fittest, and imprint a new sense of resourcefulness to conserve energy and water for the next feast. I, on the other hand, watched this unfold before me. I saw the struggle closely and offered encouragement and support in the form of words (mostly jokes and corny oral DJ skills to Angelita) and water trickles (to the seedling babes). I did not practice conservation nor flout it, but appreciation for how plants and people tough it out everyday definitely sunk in.

I went to the City of Pomona’s public hearing on June 19.  I never thought I’d say this about politics or community development, but, boy was I riveted! It was my first city public hearing ever and really made me admire the process of bringing issues to the attention of politicians. These politicians actually did listen to their community and while I did notice formalized biases built into the hearing process, I also saw an allegiance to hearing both sides. I had never seen a mayor stick to the issue at hand and respond to the case as it was originally presented as I’m more used to hearing politicians pivot for the sake of pivoting and spew out prescribed bite-sized clips of information that neither address nor acknowledge the claims presented. The future of Sarvodaya Farms is at stake and it occurred to me that members of the community really can make change. I was inspired, to say the least, to do the same in every area of my life.

I came home that night around midnight and couldn’t fall asleep until about 3 am because I kept hearing one thing over and over in my head. A point was made that one councilmember believed that had select veteran residents of the city attended this particular hearing, their voice would carry more weight in favor of the Farm.  Was I hearing this right?!! I was shocked and I felt it was completely biased and unfair. Then I wondered, does a person’s presence help or hurt in any given situation? Does having a hand written note or recommendations on behalf of one’s presence matter at all? Should my vote count more than your vote? If I’m not in the inner circle, but something has impacted me in a profound way, doesn’t that have any weight? And how many of these external voices would equal the weight of a resident!

A few years ago, while I was heading up an annual non-profit event, I would have given a black and white answer to this. If you weren’t slaving away at making the event great, you just didn’t have the right to criticize what you didn’t like and couldn’t vote on what you wanted to do differently the next time. There were complications at every step and criticism just seems like a waste of information and arresting progress. But I see the grey now. I see that external voices must be “taken with a grain of salt” along with the local voices. With the case of the public hearing, there were people at the public hearing, who were not local residents, that care about the farm’s future and were willing to step out of their comfort zone to support an issue in another city! I should think that should carry even more weight! But now I feel that the weight (or perhaps I should say vote) should be equal. Each voice counts and we’ve got to strive to measure subjectivity as equally as possible and maintain a level playing field. So to measure things from a quantitative viewpoint is not enough and to see things from a qualitative viewpoint is incomplete. It’s a constant struggle and to bring it back to agriculture, it’s not an exclusive concept off the farm. I mean, you have a variety of veggies growing and their quality varies from leaf to leaf. When we harvest and choose the best produce for the CSA, which produce says “I’m a beauty! Come pluck me because I’m fresh and ready” more? Meh. They are all pretty good and they all speak of their community (stem). They are all striving for better and need lots of support and attention. Not unlike what was presented at the public hearing, some voices speak loud and others soft. Some were present, others were not. But does that change the message?

While the political saga continues, on some level I am glad this isn’t over because this deserves more attention, more conversation, and more opportunities to hear. As Back to the Future’s Biff might say in some alternate agricultural universe, we need to make like maturing sweet corn and keep our ears open.

Things are definitely getting better folks! I was apprehensive about spending 6 weeks with the chickens, but as I was working with them on the first day, I realized that I was in love with them! 😀 They were just like my dogs at home, wanting to be fed and hating to be contained! My partner, Darren heard me making chicken noises the other day as I was taking care of them while he was in the orchard. He asked me what I was doing and I said that I was talking to them! (He found that strange, by the way!)

During the week, I go to Starbucks every day to pick up their used coffee grounds. I was finally able to share with one of the employees about the farm, what we do there and how the coffee grounds are used. He found it very interesting. By the way, they LOVE us at Starbucks because we make it easy for the to dispose of their grounds responsibly.

Then every other week, I stop off at the Supercuts Academy and pick up hair. They give free haircuts and are happy to save the hair for us. Again, I was asked about what we do with the hair. I shared that we use them to feed it to our composting worms. Everyone in the shop was interested in hearing about the farm!

I even talked to a woman who worked at Wal-Mart who was interested in applying for the farmer training program. She said she had been looking for something like that in the area, but didn’t know where to start. All because of me having to buy a wide-brimmed hat! What an impact we are making in our neck of the woods!

What I’m learning as I’m talking to people about the farm is that people are interested in knowing how to be responsible, but have no clue where to turn to to get this valuable information. I think I’m going to collaborate with Rishi and develop some marketing material for the farm to help promote the farm and build interest and awareness.

That’s all for this week!

First of all…wishing all of the moms an Awesomely Blessed Happy Mother’s Day!

I had a wonderful, but painful week! It’s incredible how I not only am a grandma, but “feel like a grandma”! This week was a killer for me! I woke up Thursday morning wondering if I could actually make it through this program! 😰 EVERYTHING literally hurt! I stayed in bed all day, not being able to move.

Friday, I think everyone felt sorry for me, so my job was to “simply observe”. I felt useless. Thank God someone suggested that I could water, so I felt as if I was contributing. LOL!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to survive the next few weeks so my subsequent entries will be of more substance.

Have a great week everyone! 👍😀

It occurred to me on Friday that I have long, elaborate conversations with the chickens on the farm…only these dialogues are all in my head. I’m usually the first one in the morning to use the bathroom and I find myself enjoying the walk because I get to pass and chat with the chickens. They cackle and I smile. They plead to let me out of their coop and as I pass by I laugh out loud hearing their disgruntled commentary.  I haven’t been trained on working with the chickens yet, but I look forward to kickin’ up some dirt with them.

This weekend, I remembered Rishi saying that hens, like female homo sapiens, grow…well, eggs, and hens lay unfertilized eggs everyday. Essentially, he said, hens have their period everyday. That got me to thinking. That’s like a time warp of one day equalling one month. That’s quite a lot of activity happening in those feather brained bodies! What if humans experienced this fast forwarding existance? Would our life span be as long (or as short) as a chicken? Would we do everything we were meant to do in that time? Then again, there are much fewer expectations of a chicken. I mean, really…wake up, cluck, eat, poop and lay eggs, repeat. But it got me thinking about what our human purpose really is. Weather it’s learning about how we are part of a larger circle of life, or providing nourishment for a community, or just being willing to experience all the ups and downs with complete acceptance of life’s imperfection, there’s a lot going on in this humanness.

But I feel a sense of relief that one day does NOT equal one month. That we have more drive and purpose that to just eat, cluck and lay eggs. And that we can make a difference with every seed we plant, every conversation we enjoy, with every moment that passes. And that’s nothing to cluck about.

we shoveled stuff and made things grow

A few days before Holly’s early demise…

Sabi had gathered up sow bugs aka rollie pollies and was feeding them to her.

Mom: Is it hard to feed them to her, because you really like them? (knowing that he loves rollie pollies, calls them his friends, and likes to play with them alot)

Sabi: Yes…but well…I want to give her something that she loves..  (said with a sigh and a sense of wide understanding)

Though very sad, he accepted her being eaten by a predator, in much the same way.

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.