I've been transitioning to the farm since Wednesday. I've left the beautiful guest house, where I tiptoed barefoot, folding delicate hospital corners on beds and delivering warm bread to Green Gulch's guests. Now, aesthetics are out the window! Our farm manager pointed this out from the ridge, where we stood at our first reservoir; the garden has neat, beautiful beds. We don't.
We cultivate approximately 10 acres of the 110 that houses G.G. We use a biodynamic/French intensive approach, which means planting close hexagonal patterns and using a lot of organic material for our soil ( 1/16 of the definition). Soil composition is our first objective! We don't use petro-chemicals and look to plant cover crops and use symbiotic relationships with bacteria and other organisms to lock nutrients into "bodies" and therefore stabilize those nutrients so they doesn't wash away. This looks like planting a cover crop of legumes, which pull in atmospheric nitrogen, and feed that nitrogen to bacteria on the roots, which then excrete nitrates into our soil. We're working toward a looped system of agriculture, one that won't require us to import nutrients for our land, like kelp or bone meal.
Our farm manager is amazing. Mother, wife, recent Shuso- She has a wealth of knowledge about farming, Zen, and life! She's direct, thorough, and has a sense of humor. I think that's what I like best about being here- I'm surrounded by these amazing people with extensive past lives- sports medicine doctors, Hungarian merchant marine captains, psychologists, musicians, artists- and all of us strive to live upright, side by side, filing into the Zendo every morning, under the watchful eye of the Ino, who reminds me of a mountain lion. Beautiful, but I'm not sure I want to do practice discussion with a mountain lion that is Ino...that's a protective mountain lion.
There are all kinds of silly mistakes to be made. The stories are oral, so I won't write them all here. But one unfortunate apprentice ate a hemlock carrot. Another set the field on fire while sneaking a smoke break. Me? I was thinning baby plants, found a lettuce out of place, and popped it in my mouth, breaking my vegetarian vow with big clump of bone meal!
Tasted like a fried fish eye. Not too bad.