By Donovan Glasgow, Community Fellow
The in between zone from the end of the Food and Farm Study phase of the Fellowship (October) and the beginning of the Community Action Year (January) was an eventful few months. Winter is a period of rest and reflection, which I took full advantage of.
In late October I departed Bear Mountain with Arden; we travelled across the country, generously hosted by Fellows in their home elements (Alex in DC and Lex in Columbus) as well as my family in St Louis.
Once back home in Albuquerque, Arden and I travelled the state before she left for Santa Cruz.
I spent some weeks vegetating in Albuquerque, reading for hours a day and going on long walks with my parents’ dog.
For my birthday, I visited Arden in Santa Cruz; we celebrated by beach hopping along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Throughout the period, I attempted to reflect on and process the past six months of the Fellowship.
Before I knew it, January was here, and the pace of time quickened as life changes piled up. I packed all my worldly possessions into my car, moved to Staunton, started a new job at Project GROWS, scrounged some used furniture off of Facebook Marketplace, and lived off of many Salvadoran pupusas until I finally went grocery shopping.
Beginning our farming year in January makes AMI a unique program compared to other farming internships and apprenticeships. More often than not, these other programs begin in the spring or even summer, but AMI plops us down in the dead of winter, an introspective and anticipatory time for farmers. My first few weeks of work consisted of orienting myself to my host organization and plugging into the seed order and crop plan process. I witnessed first hand how difficult planning out the growing season can be, though I thankfully did not take on the brunt of the work at this time (that’ll wait until the end of this year). With all this planning—juggling spreadsheets and researching seeds—one can’t help put daydream about the coming spring and summer.
Looking out the window to the farm, the distinctive colors are muted yellow and light gray. Trees are bare, mulch covers the beds, and the sky is overcast. I look back to our seed order for vibrant greens, tantalizing oranges, and heart throbbing reds: sungold and heirloom tomatoes, glass gem popcorn, Italian eggplant, spineless zuccchinni (why are they not all spineless?), burpless cucumbers (who knew?), and husk cherries (my favorite). I can’t wait until we can start getting these in the ground, a time which will be here before we know it.
In just a few months we’ll have our hands full: seeding, planting, weeding, bed prepping, pest managing, and harvesting will take up our days. The quiet, slow time of the year will be over; the farm will be buzzing. Of course, the abundance of time we currently have is its own advantage. Now’s our chance to build new projects: trellis the blackberries, plant the fig trees, move our compost system. Now’s the time to get organized: developing new tracking documents for seeding and harvesting, rearranging the wash pack room for optimized flow, cleaning and cataloging the greenhouse. Plan, organize, and improve on last year.
Thinking of the coming spring, metaphors abound about new beginnings. I have overwintered in New Mexico, and now I’ve transplanted myself to a new place with a new culture and new community. Like all transplants, I need to allow myself time to set down my roots. In my role as a Farm Fellow at Project GROWS, I’m looking forward to nurturing my budding confidence in this work. At the end of this growing season, after the harvests have wound down and the farm is once again put to sleep (which at the time of writing seems infinitely far away) I can’t wait to look back on this year and say “wow, we really did that.”