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Farm Apprenticeship Weeks 2-3

My legs are sore, my vertebrae crack when I stand up straight or stretch, my hands are scraped and blistered, but I've got the biggest smile on my face--kinda like the grin on my childhood face below! It's been two and a half weeks since I moved onto the UCSC Farm, and I am in love with life, this land, the view, the many plants we tend, and the community of ~50 people that I spend nearly all of my time with when I'm not sleeping in my canvas tent cabin overlooking the Bay.

Since my last blog update, I've done all of this and more:
  • learned a bit about temperate zone deciduous fruit trees from Orin Martin
  • transplanted flowers into beds in the Chadwick Garden/Up Garden
  • labeled many plants for the plant sale this weekend
  • weeded and added more roses to a perennial rose garden
  • learned about Alternative to Violence Program and practiced nonviolent communication during a workshop
  • got to know new friends better 
  • read about and heard lectures and saw demos on both cover crops and tillage & cultivation
  • skimmed cover crop with both a machete and a spade
  • pulled cover crop roots out of the ground on a slope and then pushed a ball of cover crop greens up the hill to a wheelbarrow
  • pushed a wheelbarrow around the hilly Up Garden with various loads
  • witnessed single-digging and double-digging
  • helped single-dig a bed in the Up Garden
  • stayed up late playing cards and board games in the Farm Center
  • baked three loaves of sourdough one day and six on another
  • spent 12 hours cooking three meals with another apprentice, featuring a lot of kale and beets!
You can view all of the photos from my time on the farm in this album, and the captions contain more information about what I've been doing and learning.

The view from the farm fields today with Monterey Bay in the distance. It's still unbelievable that I live here.

This past Saturday was my 25th birthday and Earth Day, so I celebrated a quarter century on this beautiful planet with nearly everyone in my family as well as close family friends and neighbors I grew up with. Among the generous gifts I received was a very special photograph from my dad's mom, who is also a gardener. Taken in May 1942, it shows her with her brother and grandfather (an organic farmer) on his farm in Minnesota. She wrote a note to accompany the photo, which reads, "[My grandfather] had pulled the wagon of manure with his tractor and I had used the pitchfork to distribute the manure between the rows of his field. I don't remember what he planted but it could have been corn. I wrote on the back of the picture it was the best day of our vacation. We had gone back to Minnesota from California for a week." My great-great grandfather Hank, who was born in 1875, was 67 at the time the photo was taken, and my grandmother was nine. She continued in her note, "I hope this picture reminds you the organic gardening genes are still alive and living in you."

I have the photo sitting on a card table (which belonged to my mom's grandfather) in my tent cabin. I love knowing that the knowledge, practices, and gardening/farming habits that I am learning and doing are part of my heritage. We all come from farmers eventually in our ancestry; it's so special to me that I don't need to look too far to find gardeners and farmers in my close family. Both of my parents, both of my grandmothers, and other family members that I've grown up spending time with are gardeners. My great-great grandfather Hank was an organic farmer, and I imagine that there are many other people in my relatively recent ancestry who farmed land, knew how to bake sourdough bread, canned surplus veggies, and maybe even kept chickens! In my generation, I know that at least one of my cousins is keeping a backyard garden, and last year, my cousin Jack participated in this Apprenticeship at UCSC and now he's farming near Santa Barbara. Growing food and flowers, taking care of the soil and our fellow people, and knowing the joy of fostering plant life are all human practices that I am blessed to experience and feel deeply connected to through my family. I am so grateful to my fellow gardening and farming family members who continue to inspire, encourage, and support me in my journey.

Until next week,
Green Gal


  1. I love that you are sharing this journey and keeping such detailed notes of your adventures and work. It reminds me of some historical pieces of writing and journals that people kept of gardening and farming that I've studied as a history major. So cool! :)

  2. Thanks for keeping us posted. The black and white picture of my mom with the pitchfork is very cool. I don't remember seeing that one. She looks a bit like my brother when he was a little boy--same facial bones. The words "John Deere" on the wagon is also notable. The company was founded in 1837, about 100 years before the picture was taken--and they are still going strong. Great photos in your post and great details. Glad you're enjoying your time at the farm!

  3. I love picturing you doing all of these things and being able to follow your journey here!


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