RURAL CEDAR TOWNSHIP— A student from Nepal greeted me at the work bench where four trays of soil blocks awaited transplanted eggplant seedlings. She was like so many college students, alert, intelligent, and possessed of the confidence of youth. She asked me a lot of questions: where I lived and about local culture. So many, I didn’t get a chance to ask her about Nepal and her reasons for coming to the United States. She had just finished laying down mulch in one field and planting rows of eggplant in another with a group of farm workers. She was ready to call it a day and go on to what’s next. One of many chance encounters that have made the last 15 weeks of farm work an enriching experience.
When my work moved from the germination house (formerly known as the greenhouse), to the barn, the sheep and lambs became occasional neighbors. The gentle bleating combined with bird songs made a soothing background while I made soil blocks, planted lettuce and transplanted seedlings. The two dogs hung out with me, napping most of the time. The intermittent encounters with other farm workers, combined with interludes of solitude in the barn—it is life as good as it gets.
Last week I brought jars of home made apple butter for the crew. My apple trees are expected to bear fruit this year, so the old stock needs circulation. To a person they liked it, making me happy to contribute to their farm experience.
There are apple trees on the farm, and if things work out, I’ll make apple butter from the fruit in exchange for some of the apples. My part time work on the farm has become a bartering process that gains complexity as time goes on.
There is something deep in meaning about this work. To see plants grow from seeds to seedlings to rows and then harvest is a connection with life itself. As the Nepalese student asked questions, I felt connected in a way that is hard to describe. Part of a sustainable and hopefully endless cycle of life on earth.