Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Up Tunitas Creek

It's a windy day. Really, it's a very very windy day, here on the farm. This is the wind of a storm, the kind that seems dangerous and unending. Grass bends, windows shake, and a howl drowns out my record player.

I just returned from my second weekend trip back to the city; a weekly break from my life on the farm. Having spent the past few days doing "city" stuff (seeing friends, teaching a class at Alemany Farm, attending my weekly city college class) I was eager to get back to the farm, to farm. Today is a "leaf" day, according to the Biodynamic planting calendar we've been using, and we have some lettuce and cabbage (both "leaf" crops) to plant out into the field. Last week we planted out chard, dinosaur kale, broccoli, and onions, as well as seeding out arugula, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, quinoa, amaranth, wheat, and fennel.

But today is too windy for fieldwork. So windy that I had to re-place and weigh down all the floating row cover we used to cover up the last transplants we planted out, twice. So windy that the 40 foot pine tree outside my door lost multiple main branches while I sat inside. The snap was loud enough to scare me into jumping across to the "safer" side of my room. When the air stands still here, one could easily mistake this farm for paradise. Not today.

So I worked in the greenhouse, potting up some Salad Burnet, checking on my Sea Kale (which continues to be munched by some unknown pest), and watering all our other seedlings. Inside the greenhouse, layers shed quickly as the air sits, heated by the sun and not moving at 50 miles per hour. I checked on the starts under the row cover, and moved around some plants I just brought back from the city. One of these I am really excited about, an Andean tuber called "Mashua"--aka Tropaeolum tuberosum. I got two tubers from the fine folks at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. They've sprouted nicely, and they look like a prettier, toothed version of Nasturtium (a garden-variety Tropaeolum found in landscaping and vacant lots the world over). I plan to harvest them only for more tubers to plant next year, though no doubt I'll eat one to make sure they're worth planting again!

I found a copy of Paul Hawken's "Ecology of Commerce". I have never read any of his books, and for some reason I have always associated him with the kind of "green capitalist" business world that I have serious issues with. However, Tomas (my farming partner) did mention that he saw him speak at a Bioneers conference, and was impressed. According to Tomas, at his plenary speech Hawken derided "socially responsible investing" as nothing more than a mechanism to alleviate the guilt of the privileged. He complained that it is a form of activism that doesn't require the wealthy to actually do anything substantial about the problems of inequity and sustainability.

This piqued my interest, as Hawken was addressing a group no doubt composed mostly of wealthy, "progressive" and "green" individuals, the very types who use and would defend socially responsible investing.

So today, feeling confident about tomorrow's farming promise, but hesitant about today's, I decided to stay inside and read. I should learn something about the business world and how it works within nature's bounds. Hopefully, it'll be something revelatory and inspiring. But you can't hope for too much these days...not much more than for the wind to die down.

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