Well, 2020 went nothing like it was planned. ... And that's alright, I definitely learned a lot.
One of those things is clear boundaries, of which keeping this writing page to once a year. Even though the thought of not living up to my own writings was tearing at me all year.
So let's kick off the growing season with reasonable expectations. Just putting in the calendar what will realistically take place, no double booking or saying yes just to oblige people. Putting in the life goals that really matter, and will contribute to a stacking of functions were all of the needs, and some of the wants have space to happen.
This is a lot like planting, each plant needs its space to be. And so it is that Orchestra Farm, from the perspective of Conductor Reed, is growing. New projects are coming to life in the realms of Rhizome Springs, a beautiful location in the deep south of Salt Spring Island, where a playful medicinal edible orchards, gardens, and forests is beginning to take shape. The plant repository of Orchestra Farm will be assisting in bring bounty and beauty to Rhizome Springs. Reed is offering Consultation and Design for Rhizome Springs.
At Orchestra Farm in 2021 we are grateful to have our small group of earth tending biophilic primates to share this fantastical microbiome with. A growing interest to make sure the earth is as vibrantly living as those upon her surface, there are new compost tea systems being implemented. (See our compost tea application in the services section.) Reed also invested in a drone for aerial photography and video. His offerings with the drone are here. We are excited to be with the earth this year, and share in the abundance and nurturing, and spreading more seeds and cuttings to create the world we wish to see.
Conductor of Orchestra Farm
As the year kicks off on the farm I feel the call of the members anxious to continue and grow the connections with life.
Each year is an opportunity to access the results of the previous years and set the navigation for the course of the year to come. It is now that I am planning the planting schedule for the year on a physical calendar, which is entirely new for the farm. This is largely because to plan out food across seasons for a u-pick of twenty people/families and be certain that there is food for them every week takes some premeditation.
Before I jump into the immense work of the farm I like to take a moment and meditate.
A moment to breathe, and bare witness to the collective lifeforce that is Orchestra Farm and the surrounding interlaced ecosystems it is inmeshed with. I am beyond grateful (what is beyond grateful?) for the opportunity of conducting this abundance of life and humbled by the support this villageless village brings forth.
In an effort to create more cohesion this year we are trialling a membership. As every orchestra has its members, we are calling on the members from the humans step forward in support. There is still a great deal to figure out, with how this will fully unfurl, as each member has their own unique relation to the score, earth. Some play every day, others come once a week for a moment of harvest. There are those that relax into the rhythms and offer personality to the score. And one of these members and all of the other ways members play is what makes the entire experience so beautiful.
This way of connecting with the food we eat, changes our attitudes from those of consumption and profiteering on the earth, to one of care through tending and returning surplus. This also establishes a culture of nurturing. There is nothing nurturing about scarcity. When so much of modern life has individuals in conflict and hoarding, or being underprepared, it is important to create places where we can experiment with ways of coming together that build trust and connect us not only with nature but the foods we eat. To truly cocreate the aina, hawaiian for the land that provides. How much ecological literacy do you possess to live with a very limited grocery store? Do you know the plants, animals, fungi, minerals, and soil composition of your local area? This disconnect is a primary cause of stress in many peoples life. Imagine not knowing that you have legs or arms, a heart and ahead? Just the sense of being a torso. That is what it is like to be unaware of the nature ever-present in the world around you. Is the biodiversity increasing or decreasing? If it is decreasing, then life is leaving that ecology... If it's increasing, are you assisting that, for what ends, is it all about you, or do you have a sense of the immense impact that can bring for many of the species that share this magnificent microclimate; for everything we do contributes in some way to the climate.
Orchestra Farm aims to engage across species in cocreating this wealth of life to nurture a culture of mindful play.
We are living at a time when the division of wealth is at its greatest extremes. There are so many calls to bring balance in this realm, yet with the systems at play it seems unlikely that much will change until we change our mindsets around what wealth is.
We in North America, whose ancestry is of Europe, have moved away from life as a village to life as independent individuals and nuclear families. We have largely cut ourselves off from living with nature, and changed the cycles of resources to cycles of waste which largely take place out of sight and mind.
At Orchestra Farms, where I am honored to be the acting Conductor, we are assessing our farm plan and setting a new gauge to account for how we measure wealth. We have managed to break even on the money that we spend to farm, so that the time and energy that we enjoy on the farm is our personal cost for the food that we receive by tending the land. We also consider having the ability to connect with the land that our food comes from as an invaluable relation. To be able to pick the freshest food, and some medicines, is also an invaluable resource. Invaluable to me is another way of saying sacred, for the moments in life that fill one with spirit are invaluable. Sometimes it is about slowing down in our life to notice these moments, rather than rushing through a market to rush home and rush through a meal.
This year we are experimenting with sharing this experience with others, in an endeavor to bridge the concept of village in our life. With this we are asking a few other families to join us for four hours a week to keep the farm cared for. We will be sharing of the the abundance of the farm with them, and also the failures (our main greenhouse just collapsed under heavy snow fall). We are asking that these families also value their connection with the process of farming and connection with the land and plants. By creating space to do this together we are encouraging our social connectivity to flourish. To have in person, earth connected, shared experience: eco-psycho-social. This is a value that we are excited to add to at Orchestra Farms this year.
We are also interested in building the value of the soil, for we are all reliant on a living soil to live ourselves. In this we practice a no till method for all of the beds that have been made. We do use a small tractor to create new garden beds, as it really speeds up that process. By allowing the soil to be untilled we give space for the colonies of organisms that make up the soil the opportunity to create strong networks of life to nourish the plants and ourselves.
The past two years at the Orchestra Farms we have had sporadic work parties, which we now call Orchestra Farms Best Days Ever!. These events have ranged in attendance from three to thirty people, they last for two to four hours, and people can come for any part of it. This year we are planning to offer these twice a month during the growing season. We are encouraging the families involved with Orchestra Farms to be present and invite people they’d like to share this experience with to come by as well. For those that come we gift them with a little bit of vegetable and have a food offering to share as well. There is also the option to buy some more of the produce as well at this time. This gathering in opening our farm to the larger community further establishes social & cultural wealth, and the interactions that people have with both the earth and each other are other avenues to account for wealth.
To me wealth can be witnessed by one's ability to share, which I consider as spiritual kindergarten. The sharing though that I speak to here extends towards other species. By planting for pollinators, and seed crops for our bird friends, we are aiming to establish a greater degree of biodiversity across species and kingdoms. By having a thriving farm we contribute to a thriving microclimate and bioregion. A “complex dynamic eco-psycho-social system that is subject to certain biophysical limits,” Daniel C. Wahl. This is another invaluable form of wealth.
When we look to nature, we discover that nature functions with a gifting economy.
There are many ways to access wealth, and define it. There is talk of a “degrowth” movement, minimalist and tidying up movements, tool libraries, shared vehicles, and many other ways to access the materials we need, want, and desire for a good life.
As we continue forward in this changing world, we are going to need to make changes in our lifestyles if we really want the future generations of humans (and animals) to flourish. There are many more pieces to this puzzle and I will be sharing more of my experience, thoughts, and learnings with you as this year continues.
May true wealth be experienced by all beings.
May health and happiness be with you.
May we leave this place in greater prosperity than when we arrived.
Conductor of Orchestra Farms