Back in Action
May 28, 2011
I have returned from my blogger hiatus. I’ve been busy, and searching for a different angle for my posts. As I dissected CSA for my thesis project I began to realize that my personal philosophy and politics (“not in my refrigerator“) were flawed, that I couldn’t just go to asparagus festivals, eat local food, and change the world. I’m still a foodie, but I’m a little more critical. I’ve found that piece is important for the movement, but it’s something I’ve struggled with throughout the thesis process and will for some time I imagine. I love this foodie stuff! A lot of us do. I loved going to food events and pretending to be a reporter. I loved using this blog to showcase the community I felt connected to, apart of, and involved with. But this is about more than kimchi competitions and picking up raw milk in Framingham. We need to be serious about reform and realistic and analytical about foodiedom to change the way food is grown and distributed in this country. I’m excited to talk more about my thesis project as this blog takes on a new approach.
Swamped with thesis writing, moving out, and finishing up work with theMOVE, I forgot to mention something big. I’m a beginning farmer now. I just had my first full week on Drumlin Farm and it feels amazing. I came back to Somerville last night to eat with friends and pick up the rest of my scattered belongings. Looking around at the urbanites I felt so lucky that I had touched the Earth and let the sun dye my arm hairs. I felt indestructible. I could see the week of planting and wheel hoeing ingrained in my body, in my knees, my biceps, my soul.
A kids group guided by a Drumlin staffer stopped to watch the crew thinning and weeding carrots as the unobstructed sun dried up the soil. “Who can tell me what the farmers are doing?” she asked the youngsters. That gave me such joy. All the apprentices were invigorated by the words. I was finally a Greenhorn, a member of the irresistible fleet of bicycles. Irresistable, but incredibly demanding, exhausting.
I was thankful for the dusty heat of the past week, even as it hit my eyes and formed hard, dark boogers in my nose. The week before was Octobery, cold with constant mist and frequent rain. We were doing a restaurant harvest in a field of over-wintered spinach. Its big, tasty leaves were wet and surrounded by weeds. We cut them at their bases and filled dirty bins that would turn into clean plates at fancy places in Cambridge. By the time we moved on to the parsley my hands were numb and tingling. While the other farmers ripped the stalks of the fragrant greens, I used a knife, which my hands would cooperate to do. At the wash station my fingers were lifeless, the skin canvas-like and discolored. I did the work, dumping the greens into the big wash basin filled with cold water, submerging the leaves, and lifting them into the spinner. When asked to move the big PVC pipe to the basin’s plug to empty the water I was horrified that it was physically impossible. I realized how for granted I take having control over my body. These appendages that always follow orders, that I can use without thinking, were suddenly unintelligible. Think of a sudden inability to chew or to walk. When a fellow apprentice cupped my hands in hers they stung at the touch of her warm blood, like putting snow-covered feet into a hot tub. Pinching was out of the question the rest of the day. It wasn’t until the next morning that my hands finally felt like my own again. Days later I removed the rings that defined my right hand for four-years. This is not work for jewelry.
So it’s not all festivals or digging in the dirt. It’s hard, and that’s fine, good even.