We are barreling through winter, the inexorable journey towards the light of spring. The days are lengthening, daffodils are up and in some places are already blooming. It is amazing to observe the climatic differences between Northern and Southern Mendocino County. Everything happens earlier the further South one travels, and the same occurs from high to low elevation. Our farm, at 3000 feet up on Bell Springs is the far end of the gradient from the mild climate of Ukiah.
It has been interesting to reflect on the complexity that any microclimate presents the farmer. At our elevation, the landscape has been under snow for the majority of the month of February, and this recent warm spell has not afforded us the ability to get to work prepping beds because though the air is mild the ground is still under snow. It felt like spring in South County at the end of this last week, while on the hill all is winter.
As I write, a cold rain falls, melting but slowly the tenacious snow. I have high hopes for picking greens in the morning, but they will be dashed if the falling water has failed to return the landscape to green from its mantle of white. On the bright side, the slow melt has meant more recharge to groundwater and slower runoff, although this will change in the days to come if the predictions of heavy rain do indeed come to pass.
I had a most fruitful weekend of strategic planning; I am striving to craft a plan for my work, to define the various pieces and quantify the time and resources needed. Looking forward to the season to come, there are many moving parts. I am very focused on farm and CSA planning, and on furthering my work in support of our local food system.
It has been a powerful experience to dive deeper into food systems work; it is my passion and meets a confluence between my two core values of community and contribution. I am enjoying the opportunity for learning and gathering knowledge, and for the many amazing teachers who take the time to offer lessons. I am learning to keep my heart and ears open, and striving to avoid dogmatic or stubborn approaches. Flexibility is a quality and skill that I am working to adapt to my life process.
This weekend I also had the chance to attend the Regenerative Cannabis Farming Conference up in Piercy. It is always a joy to gather with farmers; to do so two weekends in a row is a special opportunity. From the North Coast Farmers Convergence last weekend to the Regenerative Cannabis Conference this weekend, I am glad for the chance to gather as community and to share information and knowledge. Coming together creates a sense of ceremony that guides the footsteps forward in reverence. Both weekends were held in houses of worship, one at Ridgewood Ranch and one in Piercy. The confluence of conference and the reverence inspired by churches engenders a feeling of gravity that I appreciate very much.
There is an interesting confluence and parallel occurring between cannabis and food producers. We share many of the same issues, and also a common “farmernness”. Reflecting on the two gatherings, I find the similarities offer a consonance that bears delving into. I see the bridge between these arenas being fostered by groups like the Mendocino Herb Guild, and it excites me. We are learning to fashion the community we wish to see for the future. Though times are difficult and there are many challenges, we are learning to stride forward together.
Seeds are being sown and plants are sprouting from the darkness of the soil, pushing into the light. We are gearing up for the season to come, adding new skills and practices and forging the journey before us. The cycle of renewal inches towards the spring equinox, and the blood beats faster in our veins. Hope springs eternal in the heart of the farmer, and gathering together to share that hope lifts us and holds us up. We stride forward, together.
Sharing and exchanging seeds is the quintessential metaphor for building a shared future. The same metaphor applies to knowledge, planting new varietals in the mind, heart and soul. We learn from others and offer forth the lessons we have learned. The seeds we sow will germinate, and we will cultivate love and truth in a shared journey of resilience and renewal. We will produce more food, and more medicine. We will tend the land to become more bountiful and to sequester the carbon out of the atmosphere. We stride forward as stewards, into the future of agriculture. It is a joy to share the journey.