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Digging Deeper

By Kayla MacLachlan

Up on the mountain, I always looked forward to Thursdays. Mondays were for meetings, Tuesdays we would go for hikes, workshops were held on Wednesdays, and on Thursday’s we would “dig deep.”

For the most part, our learning on the farm is “experiential.” We learn by what we do. We learn the structure of the soil by feeling the cool earth in the palms of our hands. We learn that cabbage loopers are pests for our brassicas because we see them setting up camp on the leaves and chomping away. We learn that tomatoes need 2 foot spacing because we witness the jungle that their growth creates. We learn that on the surface, it’s not difficult to grow our own food but that there is also value in taking time to truly “dig deep.”

This year, I developed a class that the Fellows came to know and love as “Digging Deeper.” For a few hours every Thursday, we would all post-up in our outdoor classroom for a chance to examine a bit more closely the many things the garden was teaching us. From seed starting to integrated pest management, from crop rotations to garden planning and design, throughout the season we covered a wealth of topics that allowed us to examine what we were “doing” from a more academic approach.

Beyond gardening, these classes also afforded us the opportunity to connect with something that will always be near and dear to me -- the written word. Each week, a different Fellow would pick a reading, assign it to the group, and we would begin each class with a group discussion. Most times, we could count on guest-appearances by Michael Pollen, Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, and other food-greats; but there were times when food wasn’t at the fore-front and it was beautiful to witness the connections to gardening that we were still able to make.

On the very last Digging Deeper, the Fellows were kind enough to allow me to assign the final reading, and consequently a selection that proved to be quite different from the writing we had examined before. We spent the afternoon discussing excerpts from Kahlil Gibran’s, The Prophet and connecting its ethereal content to our experience living, working, and learning together on the mountain. We spoke of Eating and Drinking. We spoke of Joy. We spoke of Sorrow. We spoke of Giving. We spoke of Work. In the end, however, we reflected on the AMI Farm Fellowship and, writing our own excerpt, reflected on what living in Fellowship truly means. It’s beautiful what one can discover, simply by taking the time to “dig deep.”

On Fellowship

Hearing the call to work, a coming together through bread, we weave our story through hands and heart, with each step the wind blows fierce.

Those who live in fellowship hold each other up.

Sharing experiences through giving and receiving emotional and physical connections, juggling a balance of joy and sorrow, working with and for that which you love.

To be in fellowship is to share your heart's work- to dig into it, whatever the "it" may be, side by side.

to be part of a whole,

living, learning, eating, laboring, laughing and lamenting together,

for a time,

but to carry it always.

Fellowship is a cyclical bond - living, working, loving, and learning are a continuum of shared energy

…ever flowing…

held by the hands of those who understand, appreciate, and honor each other, the Earth, and themselves.

Growing as one, through happiness, joy, sorrow, hardship, uncertainty, loneliness and love.

Leaving with a sense of accomplishment that reaches far beyond completed tasks and time passed.

Is the turning of the leaves so different from the turning of the self into its next season?

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