Wednesday, December 30, 2009

new years resolution: utilize the blog

i'm getting a head start on 2010 with re-engaging the blog.
so hello again, you lovely readers!
it's a thrill to be back writing and expressing my thoughts,
but it's even more of a thrill, i have to admit, to be back at the farm.
as i turned off of the 101 and drove into camarillo early this morning,
i was overcome with emotion.
the hills were covered in fog,
the migrant farmers were out harvesting strawberries,
and i was taking stock of the changes that had occurred in the landscape during my absence.
the plastic had been removed from some of the strawberry beds,
the artichokes had been tilled under off of Lewis and Las Posas,
and there were entire fields of celery that had been harvested,
leaving a canvas of soil strewn with discarded stalks and leaves.
The emotion that came, so unexpectedly, was joy
for the gift of living and working in a land where the landscape constantly changes,
where the fields are green and growing all year round,
where home is a place of unconditional love and peaceful communication,
where the term "boss" can be replaced with "friend,"
where our job is work, work that we all love.
the realization was unmistakeable:
i love this place
(in a way i have never loved anywhere else before).
i remember having a similar realization after living several months in bolivia.
it also came early in the morning after returning from a trip.
i was in a taxi, driving through the city of cochabamba
as folks were beginning their morning rituals.
boarding the bus,
stopping on the street to purchase maté de coca and salteñas,
greeting neighbors as they walked to work...
i looked around, and up at the rim of the canyon we were ascending,
and i knew that i was going to miss this place, these people.
my time there was neither picturesque nor easy,
but it became a part of me.
i continue walk to the rhythm of that city,
as i search for and remember its bright colors.
i grew to love it. i miss it in this moment.
but i was not transformed by it.
my parents' home made me.
my time in los angeles broke me.
bolivia gave me new eyes.
and i have been re-formed here, at the farm.
it is here and now that i am home.
so good to be back.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our CSA box

Last Wednesday, Erynn and I filled baskets with vegetables to take to restaurants in Ventura along with an invitation to a chef's tasting out in our field in January. Looking at the baskets, I was struck again with how beautiful our produce looks!

Here's one of the pictures I took for the chef's invitation. And since we've never posted the contents of our CSA box; here's what was in our box last week:

Beets, carrots, shelling peas, radishes, broccoli, parsley, kale, swiss chard, cilantro, fennel, mustard greens, ruby lettuce, and calendula. Next week's additions: a surprise fruit! (though not certified organic... it's from our backyard.)

Click this for a link to all CSA newsletters, which list what's in the box each week.

Hammock meditation

WE have a new hammock at the farm! And, it's simply lovely!

Sitting in the hammock, I'm reminded of Thich Nhat Hanh's hammock meditations as well as of our own desire (us sisterfriends) to have a field meditation. Thanks to the visiting Nuns for the encouragement!

Here's what I have so far:

Breathing in the fresh and simple language of the earth’s goodness;
Breathing out, I listen and welcome her touch as I touch her.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


In high school I spent some time at the Sisters of Notre Dame convent adjacent to my school. The nuns sent an open invitation to all the La Reina girls and I was one of about 3 girls who accepted. I thoroughly enjoyed Sister Antoinette Marie and Sr. Lisa. They incorporated eastern and indigenous prayer rituals in our class prayers and were active in promoting justice and education through projects in Africa. Without realizing it at the time, the nuns embodied the type of Christianity it would take me 10 years to believe in being and actively cultivate. Finding God in all areas of Creation, loving inclusively, serving those in need, and finding communities that foster these ways of living.

I was reminded of my wonderful experiences with nuns when a group of Maryknoll sisters came for a farm visit last Sunday. These women are incredible. They've lived all over the world, built hospitals and schools, been incarcerated in China, contracted tuberculosis in Mexico, and are now staying in Monrovia.

My favorite part of their visit was their sharing of their daily spiritual practices. Each mentioned ways they pause to connect with God in prayer. Gloria practices centering prayer, Maureen sits on the ground, faces the mountains, and breathes in meditation, Moira cultivates her presence in the now by reading spiritual literature, Pauline sits in the sun in reflection and repeats a simple word or phrase until she has totally absorbed its meaning, Pat uses eastern meditations she learned while living in Asia. All of these women have engaged their spirituality through their experiences living abroad, just as I have learned to engage my spirituality through my experiences here on the farm.

What also struck me about these women, besides their amazing stories, was their lightness of heart and joy in being. When we toured the field they were absolutely delighted to pull on rubber boots, tromp through mud, and try all the produce (dirt and all). During our 1st Annual Christmas Sing-Along, they gleefully drank cheery eggnog, sang along, played instruments, and even got up to dance along to the music.

Gloria, a self-proclaimed "Latin from Manhattan" is as shocked as we were to see little rabbit bites in our geode squash.

Grace, a Catholic Worker, shows Pauline, Moira, and Maureen our mildewy spinach.

They were even good sports when their car broke down on the way home. Some Catholic Workers provided the transportation in a very beat up van which ran out of gas and overheated not even 20 minutes away from the farm. Of course, the sisters took the break down in stride and retold the story with grace and humor.

Days after their visit, I am realizing a connection I feel to these women, a few generations my senior. These women have spent a lifetime doing things I've only recently started to feel urges to do. They've made decisions to forgo traditional societal ways to live in communities of women who create powerful political, social, and spiritual changes throughout the world. I'm starting in my own familiar corner of the world and my steps are nowhere near as powerful or profound as the lives of these women. But, if my steps follow in the spirit of their footsteps, my path is looking good.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

...for the journey

Part of celebrating the holidays for the ATFP was our Christmas party at Duke's in Malibu (which just happened to coincide with the 4-month anniversary of the start of the project).

In addition to the wonderful dinner, I was sent off to spend three weeks with my family with (what else)...a loaf of bread

Paul, the baker, assured me that it contained no trace of whole wheat flour and plenty of sugar. It's delicious.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Joining forces

Togetherness. We five women or womyn if you will are a strong force together. Yesterday, Casey and I supported Sarah's work with Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice.

And, last week, as you may have read, we supported Casey's Christmas Choir.

But, overall, I guess it's the little things that matter more and more. We help each other pause and be present and enjoy the simple moments of farm life.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Out of Reach

Click on the link below for an article in the San Francisco Chronicle called "Out of Reach: How the sustainable local food movement neglects poor workers and eaters." It's probably the best article I've read that addresses the shortcomings in the food movements of late. Even the comments are good.

The critique is challenging here - how can we keep thinking and asking ourselves how our farm can make healthy, organic produce available to all, regardless of class?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Intentional Community", Community as family

I remember the thrill I felt when I read the words "intentional community" in the Abundant Table Farm Project's description earlier this year before I applied. It's a serious buzzword these days, but I'm still trying to understand what exactly an "intentional" community is, and how we fall into that definition.

We are 5 single, unrelated, post-college/ grad school women, most of whom did not know one another previously. We share our food, our house, and our work. I suppose these decisions were intentional on our part, but also just necessary and natural.

The words "intentional community" sound almost too stuffy for who I think we are. Maybe they're even overly noble. We're just living a year of life together, and I'm growing accustomed to the very natural rhythms of this year. Here are a few examples of the rhythms that have developed, from the vantage point of month 4: We...

- Sit around the breakfast table for an early morning coffee (or tea) and read the newspaper together before dividing up farm work. We sit around the lunch table and eat again. We sit around the dinner table and... yes, you guessed it. We eat most meals together - a different person cooks each night. Food binds us in many ways.

-Share a morning devotion/ meditation together before the work begins.

-Have weekly house meetings - when we do both practical tasks like chore assignments and also ask get-in-touch-with-your-feelings questions like, "have any boundaries been crossed this week that you haven't been able to communicate?" and, "what was something that challenged you this week?"

-Do things that recognize our individual personalities and interests, like salsa dancing, or capoeira, or instructing yoga, or watching a movie, or singing with a Broadway-wannabe choir, or making wreaths :)

-End (and begin) the week in corporate worship with the little house church that gathers in our home to share liturgy, prayers, the ritual of Eucharist, and a potluck.

These patterns that mark our days don't feel motivated by a conscious intentionality. I'd like to think of the rhythms that have developed as emerging out of a deeper need for family. So maybe the intentional part of our community is simply that we purposefully chose to live together. After looking over that list I just wrote above, we live as a family in a way, albeit a different kind of family than people are used to seeing and experiencing. Our community's daily patterns serve to deepen our experience as a family - eating a common meal, taking care of the house and land, and worshiping together. For 5 single, unrelated women, the definition of what family can mean has grown deeper.

You may have noticed that we have a special name for our unique relationships with one another: "sisterfriend." That's one beautiful word you won't find in the dictionary, and it eloquently fills the counter-cultural, undefined spaces between us. Co-worker, friend, loved one, kin.

That Holiday Feeling

It seems the farm has been a-buzz with many guests and a good deal of holiday warmth.
It's such a nurturing place, in fact, we've taken to growing children here too.
And, of course, interpretive dancing is encouraged.
And, all creatures are welcomed.