In the Greenhouse

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Today in the greenhouse

Looking around at all the green plants I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like a crazy plant lady. What do I think I am doing anyway with all these plants. Surrounding me like madness. But then again- it’s perfectly great! 

I took a short break to get water from the kitchen where KT was busy working. Their house on the outside is old and a bit falling apart. But the inside is some sort of perfection too. Slab of stone on the wall and counter, flowers, jars, stove. Too, the compost toilet buckets just sitting right on the deck. It would be easy enough for the neighbors to see you going poo. Doug was so happy yesterday when I needed to use it. I had to break it to him that I am used to composting toilets nd in fact also love them. I lamented to him that I can’t have one because I live in an apartment building and he told me straight away I could bring my poo to their compost pile anytime. Well it’s just then about convincing my sister to put the sawdust bucket in our bathroom. 

I am so grateful to use the greenhouse at Doug and KT’s! The beautiful eccentric place they have created over the past forty years.

The eight year old chickens that KT hand feeds because one of them lost her beak. But yes I am surprised they still lay eggs! And the cement hot tub and 30 year old glass greenhouse where all these baby plants live happily for now! The next door neighbor who is often out cleaning the yard and her granddaughter excited about watching squirrels. 

And then me busy away in the greenhouse like a mad woman that I am. Pricking out little plants into bigger flats finding room for them somehow. Sifting through boxes of seeds to find the right ones. My hands deep in the potting mix trying to get it all just right. The music on or radio. Friends dropping by. Eating chocolate and hard boiled eggs and matzah. Lying against the greenhouse a bit exhausted.

KT tells me when I mention my sort of mad plant ness something to the like of

build your dream, for their is too much straightness in our society. And it’s all gonna come crashing down sooner than later anyway. 

Hmm, yeah, reminding myself of what I am building, in this mad world we live in. A little farm of flowers! A fun thought anyway, me, all these plants and flowers. If nothing else at least a little bit of mad wonder- full beauty in our crazy world.

Now home, after eating leftover brisket and haroset from passover. the rain maybe coming. a storm they say. This will delay my first planting but it’s definitely for the best.

Full Moon April

Full Moon

April

full moon of April 
Pesach moon
elderflower moon

hey moon! of family and planting time
of Spring and festivals

wildflower moon
busy moon

moon i’ve been busy
but I still see you
so big just above the grand lake theater sign
as you rise

moon of longer days
getting ready to get dirty days

spreading compost and gypsum
hanging with farm family
seeding like mad

ahh. moon quiet
owl quiet

moon moon moo moon

April 3rd

I think it’s time to start wearing gloves at least some of the time. My hands so cracked and dry. But I do love having my hands in compost and dirt. Sometimes gloves are a nuisance anyway.  I never have worn them much. 

Spread compost by the bucket full yesterday on 8 beds. Pulled the tricky roots of bindweed and started in on some of the bermuda grass. Hmm, somehow being an organic farmer you got to find a happy medium with the weeds. Have respect for them. Try and stay on top of them, and also know when enough is okay. 

Tomorrow more compost to be spread and gypsum too. Talking with other farmers about our soil test. To spread gypsum or Ag Lime? The yolo loam soil we have is low in calcium and high in magnesium. Maybe some rain next week. And then going to plant in the field! And then it'll just keep going like that

 planting, seeding, weeding, harvesting.... going to market, and selling.

Today I remembered how long pricking out takes. I have too many little plants to prick out. But somehow I’ll get to it. And if not they will get big in their trays. Today pricked out dusty miller, sweet william, clarkia, floss flower and maybe a few more. Moved globe amaranth flats outside along with celosia. They'll be hardened off and ready to plant next week.

It’s good to come home after a day of work. I closed my eyes a bit while walking home from my car. Ah, so nice and funny. I am just tired enough to sleep while walking or at least rest my eyes. Not all from working. Went camping last night at Lake Chabot. Walked around with the moon, saw flowering saxifrage and ocean spray (holodiscus bicolor)! woke up to wild turkeys- a big one too, looked good for the eating. Brendan almost made a fire from a stick and piece of cedar. Ate gordos burritos and sesame balls. Looked out over the Bay!

almost the full moon.

 

Work

Driving to the farm. the hills are turning brown. But then at the farm they are still green.

I haven’t been this tired in a while. I suppose it must be accumulated tiredness. 
Today walked the farm with a school group. Touched the soil, my favorite thing to do. Ate mustard flowers and looked at aphids and lady bug larvae. Watched hawks, vultures, and swallows! The first swallows I have seen this year. Kim said they are tree nesting swallows.

Still seeding away. Slowly but surely things will come together, plants will grow.

This is the first year I have commuted to work. Life is a bit better when all we do is walk. But sometimes vehicles are useful. Maybe I can find a way to take the train. 6 miles by bicycle from the station. 

I walked the Lake this evening. The cool life around me. Nothing but my feet, the air and all the people enjoying the night breeze too. 

Busy. but it depends on how you look at it. Busy. 
it’s not all work in a way. because I want to be doing what I am doing.

So, what of it. 
make it happen

Brendan over, we eat pretzels and lie on the kitchen floor and try not to feel paralyzed by the weight of the world around us. by climate change, and all the messed up things going on
how to even relate
maybe that’s it too. a matter of relationship to what’s happening.
how can we even begin to talk about what’s happening. 
what do we say

gibberish songs flow. 
because then it’s just the pure- sound, the rhythm nothing too much to think about. just the way the words or not words sound. 

like a prayer.

alive

Oak- Land

I went to the Oakland Museum last night. I saw the long roots of a native bunch grass! and pictures of Oakland’s oak tree’s from the late 1800’s. The land here used to be covered in Oak trees! It saddened me to remember this history. And then there are still the birds that plant the oaks and many of us that care for the ones that are left and keep on planting. I wonder what the Sunol land was like a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago. Brendan has two baby oak tree’s he’s caring for in his backyard. I hope Oakland keeps more land for planting oak trees and for farms and gardens. And that everyone remembers what this land used to be. I want to continue learning more about our California history from the way it was and is managed by the numerous indigenous communities and the creative ways we can manage going forward. And continue to demand more land be managed for soil and not developed.

 - for plants and all of us to grow.

Equinox

Equinox

Hello
Home,
of Spring
Dear Equinox,
here you are and here we are.
and still— not the winter chill we are used to 
mornings of frozen grass
and wet feet
Spring. You’re here
And it almost tastes of summer
the hills are soon to brown
zucchini have germinated in the fields
the soil warm as if it were late May or June
Spring
I greet you with the warmth of green things under my tongue
ready to take root
and I greet you with trepidation
walking and turning 
humming
tapping my fingers together 
on a friends shoulder
or the greenhouse glass
questions
worries
and thoughts
is this enough
I buy drip irrigation parts
and the radio plays a program, “One more year of water for California.”
and it is not new 
news
but what are we doing?

A sea lion out on the rocks
stretching it’s head upward
rocky out crop, edge of Stinson Beach
on closer look, we notice the sea lion, her rib bones and her, is it collar bone, sticking out under her skin. starving?
I look at her and think 
what are we doing to the ocean
the vast limitless ocean

My Dad, and I, we walk back home. Him with his paper bag, collecting trash.

three dirty diapers, plastic gun clips he tells me wash up here all the way from the Delta, the duck hunters
plastic bottle caps too many to count
kids toys buried in the sand
a tennis shoe, almost looks new, except it was probably washed out to sea and dragged back in again
plastic bags, styrofoam.
My Dad can’t take his eyes off the sand.
Funny for this surfer dude. Who used to only look out at the waves. Maybe it’s old age. but also the same obsessed determination.
and there’s so much you realize, trash, when you start picking it up.

Spring
may we all find home
a home
a safe place

Spring
may I step lightly 
and whisper prayers
for sometimes
right now at least
it seems right
because I don’t have any other thought of what to do

prayer
home
kindness
lightness 
warmth

Spring
another year comes around
everything a bit early maybe
the flowers
the birds?
quietly we turn
without taking notice
the cool light of evening
quietly we turn
the warm light of spring
quietly we turn
hands pressed to the ground
spring
traffic sounds of Lake Merritt
street lamps
whistling lights
my Great Aunt Lucile reminds me
Take care
take care
Remember to take care

Seeds..

new flower farmer, what seeds to grow?

so many. makes me think growing flowers is really the right crop for me, because I love plants and all the varieties! and all the species!

atriplexis hortensis- orach! 
orlaya grandiflora
nicotiana
limonium
trachelium
lepedium sativum
linum

xeranthemum

to name a few!

Dolichos lab lab ruby moon
ammi visnaga
carthamus tinctoris- must have been used as a dye as well. safflower- tinctoris- tint something..?
papaver nudicale
saponaria
solidago
aesclepias
antirrhinum
moluccela laevis
how do you even pronounce all of these!?
verbascum
cynoglossum

wow!!!
what words, what flowers, what will come

Redbud

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Following the flowers

one thing to the next. sun’s out, coming through the window. slow down, if only for a moment. 
so sweet this life can be.

the people on the street, the flowers growing everywhere, backyards and alleyways.

redbud full bloom. why this one and not the others.

you make my heart leap. or something like that.
just make me want to cry out. 
and the bee’s there too. I like following the flowers and the bee’s do too.
I want to stay there a minute. warm my hands and my heart next to you redbud. 
your sap flowing, and flowers open. leguminous plant. that fixes nitrogen in the soil! and makes such crazy pink, red, blossoms.

how can you not fall in love. 
with redbud.

relationships with plants. makes me squirm and wriggle 
and want to rest there for a moment. 
and search more
inquire into this life

flowers

February Full Moon

Full MOOn!!

Full moon February.
surrounded by seed catalogues, papers, pencil markings, notes, farm maps, questions. a jumble of thoughts, papers, decisions, tasks, seeds.

Full moon 
rising over the steeple
reflected in the lake. along with all the lights of the city. Oakland.
the walkers, joggers, lovers out for a stroll, the dreamers, and screamers

Full moon
The night herons! it’s your time it seems. we walk and notice a night heron every few feet, standing so still by the lakes edge. not bothered one bit by all the people and dogs. So engaged and so still. And then- with a strange howl you lift off into the night. where are you going I wonder. to mate? to catch something?

the night herons. the crumudgeny looking ones. you can shrink your head so, and then stretch out long. like waking up from a nap. 
your wings out one and then the other.
night heron full moon

Lake Merritt

white blossoming trees- plums? all around the city. and the redbud just pushing out. sap beginning to flow. February. 
no rain for the whole month of January. and now you come again!

Yesterday Jim out on the tractor, mowing and disking. perfect soil moisture is such a delight. especially when you are driving around with wheels like that!

ah the soil, and the rhizobium nodules!

Full moon February. come now rain. Spring on the horizon. longer days. and so much to prepare for as Spring approaches. and the growing season will begin again in full! 
how it happens this way.

Happy Full MOON. 
to taking care, walking the lake, the blossoms, and birds and all the little and big people!

Dirt!

Dirt!

beautiful, delicious dirt. Dirt, soil, you just want to roll around in. fluffy brown soil. 
Jim on the tractor, mowing, disking, shaping beds. 
wow. in an hour and a half. all is said and done. and now the rains are coming. 
and the 17 beds are almost ready to plant. cover crop taken down. roots and green stems plowed under. food for the soil for all the microbes. delicious.

and me- sort of like this maybe. trying to stay like a well worked soil. not too compacted, and trying not to drive in high gear or at all when I am tired or just need a break.

staying open to what will come, I don’t know. and trying to imagine a full field of flowers!

all the soil critters, and fungi, and root exudates, and all the insects that will come and feed upon the flowers. and all the humans that will look upon and smell the flowers in their homes…

intricate process of farming. 
intricate process of staying tuned to what’s happening. Being ready to plant when the timing is right, and ready to weed when a flush comes up. 
and trying to plan for what is next knowing we cannot really know.
that is i think a true art.

Jewish Farmer

I walked into Afikomen on Claremont. I spoke with the owner. He’s excited about my farm and supporting local businesses. I spoke with him about my grandparents who survived the war in hiding in Poland.

A book stood out on the shelves. A graphic novel about two Parisian Jew’s third generation, returning to Poland. A town that was spelled similar to the town my Grandpa is from. Zlochev. but this was spelled Zlochaw. or something like that. He mentioned a few other things, a Russian Jew who had bred and saved pomegranate varieties from Turkey but then fled the Soviet Union when Communisim collapsed. He told me about Noah’s wife, Naamah, who was the seed saver. and also Eli Talks, and Mi Polan. so interesting. the lives of third generation holocaust survivors.

How I came to farming. In part as a way to heal the traumas of the past.

Following the Flowers

Following the Flowers

I find myself drawn to flowers. like the bees. and maybe all of us. the weeds that grow on the sidewalks. The dandelion, I love dandelions, the yellow flower, the seed head, and l- the bitter greens! 
Even the oxalis. How I really do dislike you. Your corms that never go away. But I guess I can appreciate the way you have adapted to live, no longer, at least in our climate propagated by seed, but just by underground nutmeats, that easily spread. and a delicious looking tap root- I have never before tried eating. You were of course- to a city child, the first plant I ever knew. The house on my street growing up where I remember you first, your long green stalks, and bright yellow flower, and the first time I tasted your sour stem. And now still on this street, the house is the same and the oxalis too. well maybe it’s food for some.

Yes, following the flowers. Does everyone feel as inclined as me to follow the flowers. Even unconsciously. Maybe this is a human thing. The faint scent, or just the color. the way the bee’s work too! 
The red pink flower of saxifrage staring up at me. I found you today at someone’s house. without even realizing I was standing there next to you. I love the leaves of the saxifrage plants, basal- low growing, so.. unnoticeable in a way, and then the flowers! It all makes sense somehow. 
And now the cherry blossoms blooming. I guess it’s time. The magnolia’s too. It’s crazy how many flowers there are on both of these trees. Just full! the white magnolia’s and purple ones. 
January heat wave. feels like spring I guess. 
When’s the rain gonna come back. Now I pray for rain. Each day!

Lake Merrit

City of Oakland. Walking around the lake. Coots birds, green goose shit, people playing music walking. City of Oakland. Amongst the buildings and streets, lives water, people, living moving things. Amidst the construction, the cranes, and parking lots there are weeds, fire, love. An oak tree in bloom, end of January. The stately friendly cork oaks living there by the lake. the grass, bermuda maybe, carpet. the sand and swing set. Looking, easing into the morning.

what is here, these people, grass, lake. looking for a quiet place. and I notice- from everywhere in the city you can hear the freeway.

 

Crop planning...

Balance. Discerning when to keep going and when to quit, and when to just get things done! Myself and Jerlina both working on our crop plans. Sitting quietly for a moment, to gather steam, or.. just remember to be here. not in all the forms and shapes of future. Crop planning - future flowers, and knowing I have a plan and I won’t stick to it, at least not entirely. and.. crop plans are somewhat intuitive. Takes some … getting to know of things, that i cannot necessarily know yet. the weeds, the sun, the soil.. the harvest, the market.. 

Planning a business and all the things that come with that. Website, cards, fliers, … accounting. Running into a fellow farmer at a coffee shop, where I met my mom to talk over accounting and things. Good people in my life.

Drinking espresso and crop planning with a friend. encouraging one another. hugs, kisses, hellos, mandolins, beers, walking. What moves you? My legs I say!

A dinner with a group of farmer friends. All finding our own ways to grow things. Non- profit work, starting a business, working for someone else. what is it that drives each of us? and here we are in winter, eating and drinking and talking about our lives.

Words of encouragement. … The moon and sun this morning over Oakland. Full moon setting and full sun rising. City buildings in the quiet of early morning. Not many out yet. Still. I walk on home. Home. 

The sun is down now. And I am tired. My brain saturated. I hope I accomplished something today. 
 

January

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New Year. Getting things done. Or trying to. Showing a friend around the farm. The soil still wet and the cover crop growing. Cool January Day. Dipping into the 20’s at night. The ground in the morning- covered in a layer of white frost. Helena says lets come early, grab some coffee and watch as the frost disappears with the sunshine. 
 

An acre, a plot of dirt, some grass, weeds, cover crop. Blue grass, Helena tells me. I am reassured, no, not the Bermuda. “Blue grass dies back in the summer.” Oh perfect! I think. A weed I don’t have to worry too much about. And will add biological activity and organic matter to the soil. Those are the kinds of weeds I want. The ones that help out, and you don’t have to weed them. Farming, takes some act of faith, or something like that. To see an open field and imagine in a few short months it will take an entirely different form at least from the naked eye. A field of small cover crop will, hopefully, turn into a field of flowers by mid-summer or earlier. But that too is what makes farming so exciting. I am always surprised by what happens, the growing, the changing, the cycles. It’s hard to imagine this winter field as the summer field of flowers I hope it will be. And then in summer, you think back, or you don’t, it just happens, and I am still always impressed! Seeds, sunshine, organic matter, water, weeding, long days of work, …. Farming life. 
 

My friend and I drove down the rode to the Sunol/Ohlone Wildnerness area. Got a lost in brambles and poison oak along the creek, but eventually made our way up a trail that overlooked “Little Yosemite.” As we approached the sound of the water getting louder and louder, green and rock, and a long cliff wall. And many hikers below. The cows too, mamas and calves, and the bull. Brendan went a mooing to one of the cows, but she started at us, and we backed up off the trail and made our way around. Muddy trails, frogs, cows, weeds, people. Will I make time in the Summer to hike like this!

Notes

We see what we want to see. 
The signs of discouragement or encouragement.

“It will be near impossible but it will be good for you. I am so proud of you.”

Being resilient. Big picture! 

An elder woman at the Santa Monica Farmers market said to me while I was buying raisins from her,  "Life is like a bicycle you got to keep moving and stay balanced."

December at the Ag Park

Back out at the farm after almost a month. Cover crop coming up. Little green blanket across the ground. Skeletons of Bermuda grass hanging on the edges of the fields. And new growth unrelenting. Green nets of Bermuda. 
Bucket like, spoon like valley- Sunol Ag Park- shades of green. Between 4 and 8 inches already. The grey blue sky, cool and wet. Awaiting a storm, they say will bring 80 mile an hour winds in parts. How to ready for a storm? Schools closed. Will the streets and waterways flood? Drought drenched California. Drought starved California readying for a storm. Unbalanced root systems and soils. Cement laid freeways and roads. No where for water to go except spilling on the sides and centers. Hanging around making pools. 
Rain. What will you bring.
The soil's wet in Sunol. Dark brown. Green, grey, light spilled tree tops. December!

Feels so good to walk around the farm. Unknowing. What shall it bring. Just walking. My boots caked in mud. The turkeys by the fence see me coming and fly, first a few and then all at once. Up and out. Helena planting ranunculus. Kristyn raking the weeds to get cover crop in. Early in the morning back to seed, she says, before the rain comes. Shawn cleaning up irrigation, saying goodbye to his farm for now. Selling hoes, and rakes, and shipping containers. Letting myself enjoy this place. The mountain blue bird with the blue purple like feathers. The owl that dips above my head just as I am heading out the gate. I look up in time to see its wingspan like a giant hanging in the air. And dip out onto a persimmon branch. 
And there, the Water Temple, with wooden art at the top. Below, like a swimming pool, tiled bottom, yellow and blue, a slow flow of water. And a sign, “ no throwing things”

Large pine tree’s and parking areas. Behind the hills, the green. So quickly you came. Green shadows. Good to be out at this land. What will come. And will it feel like a home. The way farming has for me up until now. This commute from Oakland to Sunol. For a 1 acre plot of land. Where summer temperatures regularly reach 100. And where as of now I have no shade structure, greenhouse, or storage. Just an acre plot where I hope to have a market farm. Letting the anxiety of it all ease off my back for a moment as I let myself walk and enjoy this place. The cool light, wet soil, small plants and green! 
May I come to know this place, these people, this soil, make a home of it. Grow some crops, and see if I can make a living at this and take care- of myself and others. My relationships!! That’s what this life is made of. The stuff of life. Relationship.
With soil, people, plants, air, water, bugs, dirt, music…. Thoughts.. emptiness. 
Back home, with bok choi Shawn let me harvest from his 200 foot rows that he has no plans for. Pasta and canned tomatoes. Bok Choi, red wine, and watching a you tube video of a Russian couple doing a remake of Keisza’s song, hideaway.
Other thoughts

  • how to let my work inform my life.
  • How to work and let my life inform my work
  • How to walk in the protests. And find meaning in my work. How does growing flowers relate to social justice work.
  • How will growing fulfill some of my needs for intimacy… and awareness of city living and the things that need attention.
  • How to put my whole self into my work. And my whole self into my life. And still have time and energy to share with others, dance, food, conversation, sitting, stopping, noticing, smiling, the quiet