Ballad of a Ditch Digger – Northwest Food News
Sowing the Seeds for a New Generation of Farmers – Northwest Food News
The ladies of Earthly Delights organic farm surprised the heck out of me. I knew a fair amount about seeds in the dirt coming in, but was learning something new every week as the season went on. There’s alot of passion for their farm and just as much knowledge between those two. Lori and Casey, I’ll miss you ladies.
I chose to be an intern late, I think it was early spring already, after my friend, Harry died. I wanted to do something completely different for a while. I am a Farmer’s daughter and I’ve planted random seeds a few times, but never really grew my own food. Everyday after we worked, I’d go home and do what we did on the farm at home, from pruning raspberries and fruit trees to planting beets, leeks, and even soy beans. At the end of the season I even got to plant a little magic garlic at my house! I had a fabulous salad garden and a mediocre salsa garden, but I always had any vegetables that the farm was harvesting that week, and my menu has been full of fresh food for many, many weeks. Fresh salsa has been a staple in these last weeks, along with tomato soup, and frozen vegetables are stuffed into my freezer. Ok, vegetables weren’t the only perks of this season, I genuinely liked my fellow interns and Casey and Lori, I feel so lucky that this particular group of people convened for this season. We had great conversations and discussions and fun too! Someone always seemed to take on just the job I was reluctant to do, or generous in allowing me to do the job I liked doing. It’s a big commitment, and tedious sometimes, but really well worth the time and effort if you can take some time out from your life to learn about good food and farming and friendship.
I heard about the Earthly Delights apprenticeship opportunity through my employer, Healthwise. It’s a testament to the company I work for that not only do they advertise opportunities like this, but they supported me taking 8 hours a week out of the “normal” workday to follow my heart and participate in this program. And am I happy they did! While it could have been stressful to work full time and devote 8 or more hours a week to the farm, it never felt that way. The hours working outside lowered my stress level and there is nothing more therapeutic than physical labor and good conversation. And we had plenty of both at Earthly Delights.
I am grateful to this internship for the life lessons it afforded me. I learned much more than how to start a garden, tend it through the growing season, and put it to bed in the fall. And while this is the knowledge I signed up for, I gained so much more. I spent time with people I probably never would have met otherwise. And my fellow interns opened me up to new lessons and ideas. We talked about everything: health, religion, nutrition, spirituality, friendship, enemies, plants, sustainability, vegetables, cooking, the “good old days,” business, politics, and love. Nothing was off the table and on more than one occasion, we spent an afternoon getting different perspective and opinions on an issue one of us had brought with them that morning.
This internship is a commitment, don’t get me wrong. The farm and Casey and Lori are depending on you. It’s not easy. But they teach you so much and it’s so much fun.
I don’t know what my life will be like this year without the internship. It got me out of the bed in the morning, gave me something to look forward to, stoked my imagination and gifted me with renewed enthusiasm.
I doubt if I will be able to stay away completely…………it was an awesome experience and I don’t want it to ever end.
I love digging in the dirt, doubling digging (digging down two depths) even. I really do. And if anyone would have asked me that five years ago I’d have looked at them cross-eyed, looked left then right and wondered who exactly they were talking to. But things change and they surely did once I became a volunteer at Earthly Delights. Long before I got started digging, I was a new CSA member: new to having a vegetable subscription and new to eating vegetables, well ones directly out of the dirt anyway. I wasn’t even sure what to do with some of the vegetables; some of them I’d never even heard of: kale, kohlrabi, and jerusalem artichokes anyone? I would hurry home with my share with great expectations, only to dig them out of the bottom of the fridge, rotting away two weeks later. After cautiously trying some new recipes and mimicking Casey’s delicious lunches I learned how amazing these crazy looking treasures were. No more uneaten greens in the compost now.
Not long after being a CSA newbie, I was enticed into working at the farm. After working in a cubicle for ten hours a day the garden looked like heaven on earth. I was invited to volunteer and I jumped at the chance. A few years later I was signed up as an intern, to not only be a digger but to learn from seed to harvest how all the magic works.
The first intern day, a chilly day in early springl was just the beginning of an awesome (and sometimes grueling) spring/summer adventure. Farmer Casey and Farmer Lori, as I like to call them, were a great duo. Casey full of energy and vigor early in the morning; I’ve never met more of an A.M. person in my life, was a great teacher at describing everything from compost science to names of local edible “weeds”. Lori full of patience, wisdom, and perfectly timed subtle humor selected radical intelligent articles about growing food, showed me how to pick the perfect tomato among many other harvesting tricks, and shared the best veggie frittata I’ve ever had.
And I know as I write this big long thing I will sound more and more like a hallmark card but I am being completely honest. The other interns became like my second family. There is nothing like bonding over back breaking work: from huddling under a tree washing the harvest in the middle of a late summer rain storm to pitch forking horse manure from the truck into wheel barrows, wheel barrow by wheel barrow to the garden beds.
Twice a week we would gather together over a beautiful lunch harvested by our very own hands to discuss the trials and tribulations of farming and life. Daily life really can be that good. Thank you Monica, Crystal, Tawnya, Bob, Casey, and Lori for helping me remember what us humans are here for.