Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gray day, bright people

I guess I don’t realize that we have great weather sometimes until it doesn’t show up. Since I started working here in early June the sun has never failed to come out at least once during our farm workdays, until yesterday. It was grey, overcast, and quite chilly (especially when most of us expected sunshine) on the farm. Who knew, but I think cold affected us. Without the sunshine to photosynthesize and energize us for our individual tasks, we were left relying on each other in different ways. Instead of many simultaneous tasks worked on with a few volunteers apiece, yesterday we stayed in larger groups strategizing about the details of our projects and teaching each other along the way.

Early in the day, John took a group of us to check out the beehives. He showed us a thick layer of hundreds of dying and/decaying bees on all sides of the beehives. On a closer examination we could see them being eaten by ants. John reminded us that an opportunity to see this is usually reserved for National Geographic or Discovery channel shows.

Others spent time to find space in our existing beds to plant lettuce and mustard greens. Also, when starting to re-amend a bed for beans and mustard greens, many of us noticed that the bed was uneven and the soil was sliding down. So, it seemed like each volunteer had a different proposed solution and strategy, but rather than competition, cooperation was the guide to our problem solving. Eventually all of us easily agreed that the quickest and simplest idea was to prop a 10 foot piece of lumber against the end of the bed with stakes, and then we all got to work. The rest of the amending, prepping, planting, and watering were all done with an unusually high attention to detail.

In the spirit of sharing expertise, Griff took sometime and taught me and Susannah how to make compost by layering sticks, “brown stuff”, “green stuff”, pee’d on hay, and “cooked stuff” (very scientific, huh?) with straw laid on top.

And near the end of the day Lauren led a group of young volunteers in starting to dig out a place for an underground pipe to transport water from one end of the farm to the other.

All in all, although the day was chilly and the cold may have slowed us down, it also gave us a chance to be more attuned to the little things at the farm. It was a day of teaching, learning, and trying to stay warm. Even though the sun didn’t show, our fellow volunteers shined bright.

Free Farm

. . .

UPDATE: On Sunday and Monday two of our long-time and super dedicated volunteers opened the farm for two outside groups to see what the Free Farm is all about. On Sunday morning Shandra gave SF bikers who were on the Lots of Abundance Bike Ride ( a tour. And on Monday Griff led an Episcopal youth group from traverse city Michigan and they built a new bed, planted new collards, cleaned up, and walked the labyrinth.

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