Monday, April 23

My Day at the Farm

So, on the 14th I did go to the work day at the learning farm for Compass Montessori School in Golden. They have a lot of information about what the school and the farm are about on their website, so I don't really want to get into that. I do want to talk about why I went and what I observed.

The big picture of why I went is that it makes sense to me that if we are going to address global warming, reduce our dependence on petroleum, reduce our carbon footprints, and fight obesity to boot, we need to go back to serious gardening. I mean Victory Garden-type gardening. I think that global warming has the kind of potential impact that deserves a WWII response from the US. However, I'm a wimp. I've never done much gardening and don't trust myself to have the stamina to keep at it. So, I went to practice, to see, and to build up my endurance.

We spent about 4 hours working. The first part of the time I worked on raking and seeding a new pasture for the goats and llamas.
The second part of the time I worked on a fence for keeping the llamas out of the high school area.
The day started off in the low 50's and ended up in the mid 60's which made it a darn fine day for labor. I got a little sunburned and I was pretty tired at the end of the day but not totally beaten up.

A few things I observed. First, I have a long way to go before being physically able to do a day's work on the farm. Let alone week after week. That being said, it seems to be easier in a way. Not that there isn't as much to know as there is in my industry (cable). And not that there aren't deadlines and all that. But it was really delightful to be able to pause at my rake, feel the breeze, and look off into the distance. It was so much more refreshing than a coffee break. Still, let's not get all romantical.

Second, the woman who is running the farm seems to have found something that works for her in a deeply satisfying way. She speaks with care and affection for the teens that come work with her and for all the plants and animals growing there. She has a sense of that physically-grounded at-home-ness you see in people who are building their own homes.

Third, guessing based on the amount of self-expression in the halls at the school, the kids are getting a world-class education in the power of making choices and following through on them. It seems like these kids have the wherewithal to stand up in the world and be known. Which is my way of contrasting them with people who go out into the world as young adults and then as adults who look to their sports team, their car brand, their favorite talking head, their church for their sense of self instead of it arising from some place deep inside.

I have been working on this post, but also procrastinating for a week. We have the May issue of Mother Jones on the table at the house and Barbara Kingsolver has a beautiful, rambling essay about locally grown food in it. I have been hoping it would be up before I posted this, but it isn't yet. Check there in a week or two. I especially like the call to know your farmer. Not as an exhibit, but as someone who is your partner... every bit as much as your doctor or dentist. We have an obligation to those men and women to not just shop around for the lowest price, but to understand that what we're willing to pay for our food is connected to what we're willing to invest in keeping the Earth green and working for all.

1 comment:

P~ said...

I really enjoyed this. I love the fact that you got out and "test drove" gardening, or farming as it were. I think you'll find that a home garden is a lot less work than a farm, but the opportunities for leaning on the rake still abound! That is to say it is very rewarding to harvest from your land, what you have grown. You control it's growth, and what does or does not touch it. (i.e chemicals) Start with a planter box or raised garden bed. add a little as you see fit every year, and before you know it "Victory Garden". Good luck

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.