I have been learning way more than I expected out here in West Virginia. I knew I would learn a lot about growing food, but thanks to my “wise teacher”, Rebekah, I have learned so much more.
Claymont, the spot I have spent the last six weeks working and living, is not just a farm. It is an intentional community where people have come together from all walks of life to live…well, intentionally. And no, it is not a cult. The property has its own spring as a water source, the work to maintain the 350 acres is all done in exchange for housing by the community members and they grow and make much of their own food. The people are wonderful and skilled at many things, and one of those people made my entire experience here more amazing then I could have hoped for.
What has my experience here been like?
Well, we start our days at 8:30 a.m. sitting in meditation and then checking in with everyone. Then we go off and work in the garden, the orchard, the greenhouse, the kitchen or maintaining the grounds/buildings a bit. During all that, I’ve learned everything from plant identification, to making compost tea for the soil, to building garden trellises, digging new beds, and learning the complexities of certain crops and how to deal with diseases, pests and heat to keep them from dying. But I have also had the chance to learn a lot in the kitchen: preserving foods through canning, making bread and pasta from scratch, pressing cider from apples by hand, dehydrating fruits and cooking all sorts of meals with the food harvested here. I’ve learned about running a CSA, living as part of a community and even learned about astrology, medicinal uses of plants and herbs, and so many cool things from the amazing Rebekah.
When Harvest Day came this past weekend and friends from D.C. came out to join in apple picking, pressing apple cider, pasta making and a big feast, I was really excited to show them around and share some of the knowledge I have soaked up here. It was a perfect day and we all had a lot of fun being on the farm and working together.
But the proud moment for me came when it was time to give everyone a tour. I put my geek face on and pranced around the gardens pointing out all the plants, spouting facts about each of them and answering everyone’s questions. All the while Rebekah quietly peeked in on the tour, and I couldn’t help but notice her quiet, proud smile as she realized how much I had soaked up from her over the past six weeks, and how happy I was to be able to spread that knowledge.
That moment for me, was a perfect closure on my experience in West Virginia, but it also reminded me that certain people come into your life to teach you something special and you should always take the time to soak in as much as you can.