946680_10200374922789929_1002563015_n 575531_10200406796906762_1077259056_nIt ain’t Louisiana, but it has been hot as Hades this past week!  Reminds me of working in the oil/gas field in south Texas two summers ago!  Heat is a lot different when you are working in it.  Makes you really appreciate ice cold water, nothing tastes better!

Besides the fact that Steve Kettelle may be the hardest working man I have ever met, I have been working pretty hard lately.  Steve told me earlier this week that right now everything is about “Getting plants in the ground!”.  And boy have we done that lately!  We’ve put about 300 lbs of potatoes in the ground and about 600 swiss chard, broccoli, and cabbage plants in the past week!

I can honestly say, the “glamour” of farming (growing crops from God’s own green earth) has long since faded!  Yet, I have a sense of fulfillment from every day’s work.  More so than many things I have done in the past for work. I am at least afforded the opportunity to be at peace with my own thoughts and know that I am making a positive difference in my own and others lives.

So many things about farming/gardening have reminded me of eternal truths. Just the concept of: Seed, Time, and Harvest is so prevalent in our lives on a daily basis.  To produce fruit, takes a time of investment.  Patience is needed when you put a small, seemingly feeble, plant in the hot dry ground. Of course, you water it in, remove weeds, etc., but, when you think about the reality of it all, you can do NOTHING to make that plant grow…  All you can do is try and cultivate an environment that is conducive to growth.  The sun is FREE, the water/rain is FREE.  It seems to make it all that more difficult for me (much like modern man) to accept these “natural facts” of plant growth, sun and rain energy, as natural aspects of farming and production.  And then, at the end of the road, we get to eat/consume the produce that has been generated at the behest of our own hands.

    I don’t necessarily consider myself a ‘nurturer’ or ‘caregiver’ but I found out that is exactly what farming is. Einstein said,“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” No one can grow anything on their own. All we can do is nurture an environment in which things are able to grow (and hopefully grow as well as possible). The first thing I took part in on the farm was transplanting.
     Transplanting involves taking young plants that have sprouted, grown a bit, and moving them into bigger containers where they have more room to grow and develop more extensive root systems. We used trays known as “50’s” for this; called such because they are 10 units long and 5 units wide. The units are about 1 1/2″ square. We put the 50 tray in a flat bottom tray (used to hold water). Then filled the 50 up with an organic topsoil. Then filled the bottom tray up with about an inch or so of water so the topsoil in the 50 could begin leaching the water up. If the topsoil was too dry we would spray some more water on top before beginning the transplanting. The young sprouts to be transplanted would already be in a flat-bottom tray, just scattered all about. So the entire process is just taking the plant, one at a time, from the starter tray to a 50 tray. Sometimes there could be as much as 3-400 plants in one starter tray, such as in the case with the broccoli plants. I transplanted tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli the first day. All of which must be done slightly different. The tomatoes are planted much deeper than the others, about all the way up the stem to the bottom sets of leaves.
     The next task was pulling out old plants from the previous season and weeding. In one field we pulled out old eggplant and pepper plants while in another field we pulled out old kale plants. It was amazing to see that many of the kale plants had survived the winter and were showing some greenery. Steve told me that if we would leave the plants that they would eventually produce, yet not as well as we would like. Next, we weeded around the blueberry bushes about 4-5″ around the plants . Steve said we did this to remove any weeds/grasses that would compete with the plants root systems etc. We pulled many thistle plants out of the ground, some over 6′ tall. We piled them on designated ‘compost’ pills that Steve had already established to let the dead plant matter decompose naturally.
     Finally we finished up the day by removing old electric fencing (that didn’t work like Steve had envisioned) that had been installed mainly in order to keep deer out of the gardens. Steve said he had switched to a system that worked much better using an 8′ plastic mesh fence that he could stretch around wooden posts positioned in the corners of the gardens.
     This was the first time I had done much physical labor in almost a year and needless to say, I was pretty tired! I couldn’t help but think that today was different from many other jobs that I had done in the past which usually left me feeling disconnected and unfulfilled. I could go to sleep this night feeling connected and knowing I had done work that would literally make a difference in people’s lives and well-being. And when I did get to bed, I slept good!
Me in the greenhouse

Me in the greenhouse

    My journey in the life of sustainable health and wellness led me to the screen door of an old farm-house in Pine City, NY. Just the idea of me living and working in New York blows me away!  Having grown up in rural Louisiana I never would have thought that some day I would have ended up in NY, and on a farm nonetheless.

     For about the last 4 months I have been on an intense journey, an Aliyah of sorts, to get in touch with my most intimate self, search the depths of my heart, mind, soul, emotions, etc. and start living deliberately according to these most intimate of ideals. I wanted to live entirely on purpose. To push aside every influence I could and then begin to pick up only those things which were conducive to my journey.  In short, I want a sustainable lifestyle for myself and it seemed to me that learning organic gardening would be a good start.
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    I found out about Hendy Hollow Organic Farm by searching Craigslist. I had already decided that I wanted to work on some type of organic farm if at all possible. For my job search at the this time I adopted an idea from Robert Kiyosaki, “Work to learn, not to earn”. I had already talked to a guy that worked at Freshlife, the organic store in town, and he gave me the email of the owners daughter who could then give me leads as to potential farms that I could work on. After hearing back about two potential farms and then not getting any further interest from them, I turned to Craigslist. I think it is worth noting that I was having anxiety at the time wondering if and how I was going to “work to learn” while still being able to pay my bills. Nevertheless, literally, the first time I looked on Craigslist for a farming opportunity I found the job/internship at Hendy Hollow. After a few emails and phone calls I was on my way to check out the farm and farmers themselves. I had known about things of this sort, such as WWOOF, for some time now. Finding a job/internship that paid anything significant was something of a novelty that I hadn’t even heard much about and thus wasn’t too confident that I would find something that would work for me.
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     Arriving at the farm for the first time was a confirming experience. Steve and Micheal were very welcoming and informative. I knew immediately that this was something I wanted to be a part of. The arrangement started with me agreeing to work weekends through April and moving to full-time starting in May and concluding at the end of October. I was informed that we would be servicing about 50 CSA members as well as going to market in Ithaca on Saturday and Sunday. I will only be going to market on Sunday and running the booth by myself for the day, although Michael will be close by running his own booth for the market, Culinary Kiosk.
   I am so excited to see where this new path will lead me and what all I will experience along the way!