Be a Tree

Hello humans!

Often we see things we want to change and get all mixed up in our intentions, expending a lot of energy but not changing a thing. But a tree doesn’t see faults in the world. It isn’t trying to do anything. It simply exists, grows, survives. A tree doesn’t leaf out for insects, but they find shelter among its leaves. A tree doesn’t reach into the soil for bacteria, but they still drink sugars from its roots. A tree doesn’t stretch out for squirrels but they find cool shade under its canopy and a highway in its branches. A tree is not just an individual but a whole ecosystem. Through its simple presence spaces are made to shelter, to ground and to hold. Life gravitates towards trees, as they go about the task of living. Simply, wholly, peacefully giving, as a collateral effect of their existence, with no afterthought but the creaking of wood and the whispering of leaves. This week, be a tree, and if it brings you to the farm join us for the following:

Farm Stand: Thursday 4-5:30pm at the Smith Campus Center Courtyard
So many greens! So much bok choi! So many sweet peas! Come on down to farm stand and get all your goodies, from the most local/organic/ethical source you could possibly have hoped for. This week there will also be GREEN SMOOTHIES for all! Come and get your powerful burst of green goodness! Enough nutrition to last a whoel week!

Sagen Café Weekly Special: Friday 11-1pm at the SCC
Salad, salad salad. Come get it.

Volunteer Hours: Saturday 10-12pm at the Farm
Get down and dirty with the farm. We’ll probably be thinning.

Growing Home Potluck: Seeds of Abundance: Saturday 3pm in Hahn 101
Seeds were once saved by farmers and communities, revered for their offers of fertility and abundance. Today, seeds are hybridized, genetically modified, and commodified for the benefit of corporations and convenience. In the last decade, communities across the nation have been reclaiming their seed heritage by collecting and saving seeds. Organizations such as Seed Savers Exchange, Native Seed/SEARCH, and a coalition of public “Seed Libraries” have been helping communities identify and multiply seeds that are locally adapted, nutrition, resilient, and delicious!
This month, our Guest Speaker David King, founder of the Seed Library of Los Angeles, will talk all about his organizations efforts to restore Seed Sovereignity to Los Angeles and bring back local, community seed and how we all can make a difference by saving seeds in our own gardens and urban farms. Register here. (for PO students, use the promotional code “pomegranate” for your free ticket).

The Verdant

Hello minds and bodies!

This week we’re switching it up a bit, and mining the brilliance that surrounds us to draw out a couple of gems (that is, featured guests for the week’s proceedings). This email introduction was written by freshman Tom Lin, and cooking workshop will be led by senior Elicia Epstein. As always, friends, relish the day:

I. prelapsarianism
a taproot piercing the loose soil.
a flowering stalk above the inchoate greenery.
a crossing branch on an apple tree.
a zephyr dancing between

the beat of a bumblebee’s wings,
in isolation, is nothing special.
the heft of a pitchfork,
in isolation, is nothing special.

the stippled sunlight on live oak bark,
the east side, the west coast,
the egg, the cotyledon, the rain, the dust.
the powder blush of snap-pea flowers.

now i lie in the hammock and breathe.
it has rained and it will rain again.
the swing communicates through the trees,
we are in eden again.

II. the verdant
the mercury is high today. like every day. but some days it is not. in my hands the handle of the pitchfork is worn and rough. when i turn the earth a bloom of dust drifts low over the ground and pretends to settle over root and sapling. in the air the heady petrichor of parched soil drinking lingers. a moment’s rest, and now i drive the tines of the pitchfork deep into the dirt again.

III. postlapsarianism
stem vectors and ant cities
the universe after the fall.
harvest time approaches
and scions rest trembling
in the dark.

This week in farm:

The Existential Resource Center: Soda Making and Spellcasting, a Workshop. Thursday 4pm at the Farm Outdoor Kitchen
We’ll be making mystical sodas out of flower blossoms and citrus-y freshness, with some magic thrown in there, so come on out and find out what this is all about.

Sagen Café Farm Special: Monday and Friday 11:30-1pm, SCC
Fresh salads for years. Come get yours.

Urban Foraging: The greens and flowers edition. Friday 3pm meeting at the Farm West side
Come see Claremont through the eyes of someone who lived off foraged/wild/free food here for over 4 months. There are so many plants out there that you can eat, hiding in between concrete. Plunge into your current habitat! Come on out for a mini walk-through field trip, exploring the edible landscape of Claremont. We’ll be focusing on the fresh new young greens and flowers that are peeking out for spring (fruits will be ready later). We’ll wander on and off- campus, but we’ll circle back to the farm and return by 4:30pm.

Volunteer Hours: Saturday 10-12pm at the Farm
The usual dig-in-the-dirt and make terrible jokes routine. Hope to see you there.

Love,
The Farm

Secrets from the Surface

Hello explorers!

Often the world we see appears to us repetitive, mundane. We see the same things every day, the same landscapes sprawl before us every morning. Hard concrete, low bushes, and the straight angles of desks and drawers. But friends, do not despair! This is only the first layer! There is a secret world hidden within this one, a world that awaits your touch. We can glimpse it when we munch on the tangy greens of a wild dandelion plant, when we climb into the welcoming arms of an ice cream bean tree and feast on its sweet pods, when it’s still enough to hear a hummingbird shoot past us. When we find a secret message scrawled on bathroom walls. There is something more to this world, something that only reveals itself for those that care to look. It’s the world we hide within ourselves when we talk about the weather, but that comes to light when someone says something absurd, revealing, hilarious. When we daydream about mountains and horses and building our own home, when catch the glint in a stranger’s eye. Everything can be an experience if you dare indulge it (and pay attention). This week in farm, come be surprised with us, you may find there is more to this world than you think:

FAMILY WEEKEND FARM STAND: Thursday 4-5:30pm at the Smith Campus Center Courtyard
There will be fresh produce! Arugula, lettuce, green onions, kumquats, herbs, broccoli, bok choi, gai lan, peas, and more! There will be NASTURTIUM TACOS! There will also be those delicious nettle galettes from last time! Fallen Fruit for Rising Women, a social enterprise, will also join us this week, selling their delicious locally sourced and made jams. Also, teas and t-shirts!

Family weekend open hours and tours: Friday 8am-5pm
Bring your family by the farm and show them Pomona’s most lush, most productive garden! The farm will be open for visitors all day.
OFFICIAL TOURS from 3-5pm: A farm representative will be in front of Frank Dining hall to lead a tour from there at 3, 3:30, 4, and 4:30pm.

Sagen Café Weekly Special: Friday 11-1pm at the SCC
A fresh dish of deliciousness!

Volunteer Hours: Saturday 10-12pm at the Farm
Bring over your family and come out for a morning of weeding, mulching, planting and much more.

Love,
The Farm

Banality of Perfection

How we fret and worry over straight angles and rigid lines! Humankind has invented an impossible beast of perfection. We’ve built castles on decimal points and fortresses out of should-be’s. But trees find their shape as they grow, stretching into light and settling into life. Perfection is in the angle of a branch and the tilt of a leaf. There is no measurement, just artfully arranged scatterings of joints, things coming together as they do. There is no perfection in nature because there is no way that things should be, no one holding tools out ready to count, no one marking and re-marking lines on creaking, growing wood. Trees don’t make mistakes. Where branches fall new ones grow. Splotches of color on a petal just add pizzazz to the bloom. There is not a single rock that is a smooth sphere and not a single branch that grows at an exact right angle from the trunk. There is beauty to the way in which atoms fall into place, an order to it all that eludes our tools. Things are perfect simply because they are, not because of their resemblance to an abstract idea of what they should be. So next time you find yourself fretting over the shortcomings of your work, remember that whatever you created is beautiful because you created it, in whatever form that may be. This week in farm, join us in exploring the chaotic order of what’s been brought to life:

Cooking Workshop: Thursday 4pm at the Farm Outdoor Kitchen
Have you ever eaten stinging nettles? Have you ever made pasta? Do you like pesto? Do you like deliciousness?
Regardless of your answers, you should all come on down for the very first cooking workshop of the semester! We’re making stinging nettle pasta from scratch paired with some delicious arugula pesto. You know you want some. It is going to be delicious.

Sagen Café Farm Special: Friday 11:30-1pm, SCC
A delectably fresh and wonderful salad to boost your day.

Woodcarving: Friday 3pm at The West Side
Finally! Sorry about the last couple of cancellations, folks, but this week we are on.

Volunteer Hours: Saturday 10-12pm at the Farm
Come on out and meet some folks and pull some weeds in the process.

Shape Up

As you wander forth into the world, you may notice a certain familiarity in natural things, even if you’ve never seen them before. There is a certain quality, a certain set of shapes and forms that recur, nature’s patterns finding the lowest point of energy. Including the human body. The lobe of a dangling leaf is mirrored in the lobe of your ears, the lobe of your liver, the sloped curve of a petal. Every time a tear rolls down your cheek you may see the path of its descent reflected in the soft edges of a snail’s moist trail. The twisted coils of curly hair so like the bent zigzagging of twigs on new trees.  The symmetry of your face and of the spiraling center of a flower follow the same rules, are arranged in the same ratios. There is order to this chaos and we are no exception. Your five fingers are just like the furry toes of a paw, the structure of a flipper, the rough scales of a claw. River rocks worn by decades of rushing water sit in the palm of your hand like the balls of your feet or the bulges of your cheeks when you smile. It’s natural. This week, come out to the farm and explore the connections between the wrinkles in your hands and the wrinkles in bark, between the hair on your arms and the soft fuzz that surrounds a ripening loquat, between the pores in your skin and the pores dotting a fat, juicy kumquat.

Basket-Weaving Workshop: Wednesday 4-5pm in the Dome
Some farm folks went to a date farm and brought home a whole bunch of date flowers- perfect basket fiber material. Ever wondered how to weave a basket? This is your chance to learn! We’ll be using natural red dye from cochinilla, a bug that oozes red and lives on cactus from our own cactus garden. Be prompt please, lest you miss the initial instruction. Sign up here (limited spots available!): http://goo.gl/forms/uZjhDp4Eqb

FIRST SPRING FARM STAND: Thursday 4-5:30pm at the Smith Campus Center Courtyard
There will be fresh produce! Arugula, lettuce, green onions, kumquats, MUSHROOMS, herbs, broccoli, bok choi, gai lan, peas, and more! There will be green smoothies if you want your fix of greenery but don’t feel like cooking! There will be baked nettle galettes for sale! Teas! T-shirts! And of course, all of your favorite farm folks to hang out with.

Sagen Café Weekly Special: Friday 11-1pm at the SCC
A burst of spring! This week featuring our delectable greens for the discerning palate, in salad form.

Woodcarving: Friday 3-5pm at the West Farm
No experience necessary, all are welcome. Woodcarving will be cancelled if it rains.

Sink into Silence

Hello people!

The long awaited spring semester is here! As we launch into new things, there will be so much noise around us, the noises of things creaking and popping and being set into motion. In the tumult, don’t forget to listen to the silence. It is what most strikes wilderness revelers when they get away from it all, the absence of noise, the eerie quiet of the natural world. It’s what makes us whip our heads around if we hear rustling in the bushes or leaves crunching nearby. Somewhere along the way we filled the world with so much noise that we forgot the silence. But we don’t have to lose ourselves in a forest to hear it. It is there, beneath the sound of clicking keyboards and beeping phones and rushing cars. It lies quietly behind the rustling of leaves and the crunch of footsteps on mulch. It is the default state of it all, and it’s always there, dormant, everywhere, unheard and unknown. It’s even there in your own mind, underlying your every thought, and what peace we can find by indulging it. This week at the farm we’ll be busy making noise, and making things, as beginnings take form once again:

Post Holiday Wreath-Making: Wednesday 4:30pm at the West Farm
DO YOU ALREADY MISS THE HOLIDAYS?  This is your chance to be in the spirit and take some celebration home with you. Come on down to the farm and make a wreath for yourself so it can be a holiday all semester. It is very, very easy to do! We’ll be using home grown fragrant herb branches so your wreath will perfume your room with aromas of sage, rosemary, lavender, or whatever your heart desires. No previous crafting afflictions necessary. Bring a wire clothes hanger and RSVP here.

Volunteer Hours: Saturday 10-12pm at the Farm
And what a beautiful day it will be! Come on out and get your hands dirty.

Growing Home Water-themed Potluck: Saturday starting at 3pm in Hahn 101
This week featuring a potluck! Water is the foundation of life, yet each year Los Angeles pours millions and millions of gallon of pure rainwater down the drain. How can that water be captured, stored and used? How can we recycle used water? Melanie Winters, director of the non-profit coalition WATER LA will show us how she uses Urban Acupuncture to restore ecosystems and grow food with the right water moves. Sign up here. For Pomona College students, enter the promotional code “pomegranate” to access your free ticket.

Miracles of the sidewalk

Hello humans!

It has rained once again! In the next couple of days you will see little mushrooms heads and weed seeds sprouting, trees sighing and dripping down onto hard concrete. Look closely! It is easy to be awash with the magnificence of the natural world at the foot of a majestic mountain range or at the edge of the Grand Canyon. It is easy to be in awe of this planet’s creations watching a rainbow fish in an aquarium tank or swaying in the hammock at the farm looking up at rustling treetops. But there are more ways this magic is manifested, and most don’t catch our attention every day. Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is not a sublime waterfall or a preening peacock but that one blade of grass that peeps in between concrete, cell by cell fighting the heavy metals and hard surfaces to give itself life, asserting its presence in a world that was not made for plants. Perhaps the most awe inspiring beings aren’t massive sequoias but the weeds that call poor soil their home and give forgotten bare ground a blanket of green to dress it on cold nights, tenacious weeds that brighten the world with blooms never intended by human hands, stubborn weeds that somehow draw nutrients from urban hard-pack and poisoned sand. Rebel plants that decide to live anyway. So next time you walk past a rogue shrub squeezed into that tiny triangle of soil in between sidewalk and road, make sure to pay your respects.
This week at the farm we’ll be paying our respects by pulling up said weeds, and getting ready for the spring semester. There are many things to look forward to so be ready! Come on out for volunteer hours and breathe deeply for these emails are about to get a whole lot busier.

Volunteer Hours: Saturday 10-12pm at the Farm
Help pull weeds! Prune banana trees! Plant seeds! Eat things!

With droplets of life on bare ground,
Love,

The Farm

A touch of Frost

Hello folks!

At last, the farm is back from a brief hiatus, rolling onward into 2015. You might have noticed that a winter-like chill has descended upon us in the past couple of weeks. At night, we even reached freezing temperatures, which does not bode well for our tropicals. Plants hold water in their cells at night, and if it becomes cold enough to freeze that water, the cell explodes and is destroyed by the slow crystallization of liquid into solid. The crippled banana grove is almost all brown, ice cream bean trees shriveled at the edges, the rose apple bush wilted. It is hard times now for these guys. On the other hand, our kale and cabbage and collard greens could not be doing better, they sit on the earth happily springing out, leaves taut and verdant, greeting the cold with open stems. This is the moment of truth! What plants developed frost resistance and what plants never had the need to. Each one adapted to a different environment, and while most of the time we see them in harmony, these are  the times at which their individual lineage is revealed. But beauty is in the combination, and things will always grow back, so fear not. This week is as chilled as our nights, we’ll have opportunities for produce boxes and volunteer hours on Saturday:

Holiday Harvest-your-own Produce Boxes: Available Jan 6-14th
Since we’re not doing farm stand over the break, we’ll be selling produce boxes. Set up a time to come down to the farm and walk around with me harvesting whatever you want from what we have. Boxes will be $15 (in cash) mostly, with flexibility with large variations in produce amount. A unique opportunity to participate in your own food system from a local, organic, affordable grower and see where your food comes from! Please try to bring your own boxes/bags. Book times on weekdays 9am-5pm. Sign up here and I’ll be in touch.

Happy Belated Holidays

I will dole out the obligatory happy holidays in this message and inform you that we will also be taking the time off, and thus will not be up to much at the farm. As we all retreat back into what most resembles home and family, I’d encourage you to expand your familial circle to encompass what at first glance may appear completely unrelated to you. But let me remind you of our origins as organisms. When life first began it branched into two forks, bacteria and everything else. These two forms of life are different on a fundamental, molecular level. We exist in the “everything else” category, which branches off into archaea and eukaryota. In the eukaryota group, it was not that long ago (geologically) that we shared a common ancestor with all plants and photosynthesizing beings. We were once one, that then peeled off and took two different paths. The path that eventually leads to us includes fungi, and we only recently branched off from them, so we are more related to fungi than fungi are to plants. In the vast tree of life, you can see that all multicellular beings (you, me, that mushroom over there, all the plants, that bird, bugs, fish, etc) are actually quite closely related, and cluster together on an edge of the tree. Thus you may not relate to having bark for skin or wings for arms, to having gills for lungs or spores for babies, but these are all mere physical details to the molecular foundation that unites us all. Perhaps that tree could also use the gift of a song, and that bee could use the gift of a flower to drink from, and that mushroom over there could use your admiration, because it shares much of what makes you breathe (67% of your DNA, that is). So I invite you to embrace your family, in the broad sense of the world, and remember where you came from.

December life and times

Most things we see happening around us we can explain scientifically. Biologists have exhaustively observed and cataloged nature’s behaviors, writing up lifetimes worth of work in peer-reviewed journals. We have a reason for everything. That red hue to falling leaves is because of senescence and green chlorophyll cells flushing out. Birds singing are a part of a reproductive strategy. Flowers bloom in time with seasonal cues and colors on the petals develop to attract pollinating insects. Evolution isn’t extravagant, and what beauty we find us always for a specific purpose. But evolution shaped our own brains and we are capable of frivolity, of joy, of celebration and of love. It seems diminishing to not recognize the possibility of these sentiments in all life forms. While they may have been programmed to, birds may belt out their tunes with utter abandon because singing is fun and their songs sound beautiful to their little bird ears. Trees may reach a little farther than they have to, make just one extra twig because they can, because it’s such a joy to grow and reach into empty space, because it’s just fun to build something. It’s possible that squirrels play games on tree trunks and take naps in the branches and have genuine affection for each other. And that stunning flower that was supposed to look like a bee, may make its red a little more vivid, and give a little more nectar than it strictly has to survive because what is life’s gifts if we don’t get to share them and because it likes the company of the beetles and the bees that drink from its womb. Maybe life’s drive to survive is inherently joyful and our own existence is just one more part of the celebration.

The farm, in the throes of recent rains, is also building because it can. We’re working on a couple of big projects that will hopefully be awaiting you all, fully completed, when school resumes. We’ll be putting most of the weekly activities on hold until then, but will still be doing volunteer hours and introducing our produce box system.

Holiday Harvest-your-own Produce Boxes: Available Dec 15-29th
Since we’re not doing farm stand over the break, we’ll be selling produce boxes. Set up a time to come down to the farm and walk around with me harvesting whatever you want from what we have. Boxes will be $15 (in cash) mostly, with flexibility with large variations in produce amount. A unique opportunity to participate in your own food system from a local, organic, affordable grower and see where your food comes from! Please try to bring your own boxes/bags. Book times on weekdays 9am-5pm. We’ll keep you updated on January availability. Sign up here and I’ll be in touch. Sign up for your first one and if you like it you can sign up for another.