Oy! There’s so much that’s happened in these past few days – as much as I’d love to do some retrospectives stretching back into my return flights from Israel, I find myself so wholly immersed in my present experiences in Berkeley that I feel I can’t help but take a dive right into these past three days, as I’ve been kicking off my time as an urban farming apprentice with Urban Adamah.
How to even capture the glory that has been these past three days…
So much of it is just the confirmation that, indeed, working outside, building and learning about urban farming, are things that genuinely make me happy, and which continue to feel important. For so long these things have been tantalizing hypotheticals – callouses on my hands from working with a saw, aching shoulders from hauling wood, primer on my shorts from painting purlins – and now that they are real, I find myself feeling (similarly to Omer) that my day to day work is hardly work at all, but more a day to day expression of what I want to do with my life.
There are so many things that are clicking right now about this apprenticeship. The first is most definitely the people. It never ceases to amaze me how kind, aware, motivated, and loving the folks I’ve met working in gardens and on farms are, and the folks I’m apprenticing with are certainly no exception. It was no surprise to me that all of us, when asked “why are we here?”, had some answer along the lines of “the universe directed me here” or “the wind blew me here” or “I felt called to do this.” Everyone on our team has given a great deal of thought to what they are doing and why they are doing it, and we all talk regularly about how important we feel this work is.
We begin each day in a circle, and take however many moments we need to check in, slow down, and just become present with ourselves and each other before kicking off the day. Though I can’t help but be aware of how lovey-dovey/hippy-ish this all seems and sounds – it works, and it feels wonderful! We all move through our day together happier, more motivated, and all the more ready to collaborate, and by the end, none of us want to leave or stop working.
In just three days, we’ve gone from a completely empty lot, to laying down the base plate for our first green house (not to mention doing a whole heck of a lot of fun brainstorming ideas to expand on our current designs and plans). All the wood was measured and cut by hand with a handsaw (i.e. no electricity), and Sid, our fearless, shirtless leader from England, has been taking the time to teach us all a few tricks of the trade, which he’s learned as he’s traveled Canada and America working as a farmer and carpenter.
To be outside, working without a shirt, sweating, building, laughing, learning – I can’t imagine something better I could or would want to be doing with my time right now. And as if that weren’t enough – the community that has come to check out what we’re up to has been just astounding. “If you build it, they will come” is an understatement for us – we’ve already been offered free drinks by Ali who owns the Missouri Lounge next door (see him below in a very Home-Improvement-like moment, looking over the fence and chatting with our farm manager Tali); our other neighbors, the folks who work at Black Oak Books, are keen to bring in their kids to explore the farm; we just today bumped into a Berkeley beekeeper who wants to work with us on getting our apiary set up; from all around, people are just coming to our site, and offering materials, volunteers, advice – you name it! And all of it has been welcomed with open arms.
I told everyone as we held our closing circle today that I truly feel my faith being restored each day we work together on Urban Adamah’s emerging farm. Each day, I feel like we are working towards creating something beautiful, something needed, and something that, without fully understanding why (and perhaps not needing to), seems by its very nature and existence to generate positivity and community connection. After all my wondering about what I’m doing with my life and why, the simple act of laying the baseplate for a greenhouse has helped to make me feel simultaneously whole in the moment, and as if I am working towards that whole self that can only be the product of time, work, and love. I love envisioning where the next pieces are about to fall, and imagining the finished product as we work step by step, moment by moment, towards making this vision of an urban farm a reality.
I continue not to know exactly where all this will be leading me personally, but seeing how this first step of building a greenhouse fits into our larger plans for an urban farm, I can’t help but have a renewed faith that things will work out as they are supposed to – that there is a framework we can’t help but build into when we pursue our building with love and intention. Those are the two tools I continue to try to bring with me every day, and I feel there will be so much more to report on soon.
Snowshoeing all day in Tahoe tomorrow, and then a forty mile bike ride on Sunday. Did I mention things are pretty busy here?
P.S. I feel I can’t help but end with a shout out to the O’Deans, and the wonderful time I just spent catching up with friends in Santa Barbara. Here’s Babs in all her glory:
Emily in all hers:
And finally – a picture of me with the O’Deans:
In the words of Will Smith, from his breakthrough album “Big Willie Style”: “I’m livin’ lovin’ lovin’ livin’ it’s all good, I’m lovin’ livin it’s all good.”