I’m going to try to make this a compact post. I realize last post I left out so much of what life is like for a WWOOFer (yrs truly and my new friends Lindsey and Nora) on Raisin’ Roots Farm in Fort Collins. In short, it kicks butt. Nora is from Amsterdam and WWOOFed here last Spring and has come all the way back because she had such a great time. Until October 31st, we will share the RV. She’s super cool and has a unique perspective on we silly Americans, and so I very much look forward to getting to know her.
Ben is the head farmer. He’s 28 years old, and he has the gardening wisdom of an eleventy-five year old hobbit. But he doesn’t look like a hobbit. He looks a little like my good pal Will—calm smile, thick brown hair, dirt on limbs and/or face—who runs an urban farm in St. Louis, MO for Bailey’s restaurants and whose example is one of the main reasons I am here. Cool connection. Basically, Ben looks like a cool, down to earth dude, cause that’s what he is. When we met, he gave me a big ole hug, and instantly I felt welcome. Ben buys we WWOOFers groceries when we ask and allows us full access to any and all of the amazing products of the farm, including eggs from the 50 or so hens. He even bought me three bars of Kerry Gold Irish Grass-Fed Butter, such fine butter indeed! Out in the field, he mentors me on all tasks of farming—hoeing, tilling, weeding, planting, watering, harvesting, and a hundred more. Who knows how much I will learn in the days to come. He mentors with patience and answers all of my questions with compassion, no matter how uninformed they may be. I am super stoked and blessed and grateful that he’s running the ship here, and I foresee him becoming a lifelong friend.
Ben’s apprentice is Sam. Sam instantly greeted me with a big, warm smile and made me feel at home. He’s accumulated a ton of knowledge of earth-related stuff I know nothing about. He’s also a fellow writer, hooray! Poet by trade, Sam lived off freelancing in the past but reached a point where it no longer served him; hence, his movement to become more connected with the Earth. Sam’s been extremely generous in sharing wisdom on how to freelance, which is one of my previously stated intentions for being here. He has a huge heart that expresses itself in love and continual joy, and I know that should I ever be going through a difficult time, I can turn to him as a supportive friend, for always he affects openness and compassion. Once again, I am extraordinarily grateful.
As I mentioned before, we work 6:30-2ish on Tuesday-Thursday. Friday is “Harvest Friday,” a day of much labor where volunteers flock in to aid us in our harvesting of the week’s bounty—mixed greens, carrots, arugula, kale, collard greens, swiss chard, beets, radishes, turnips, potatoes, tomatoes, and more. We gather it all and wash it all and bundle it up in preparation for the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, where Raisin’ Roots sells a great deal of produce to the bustling gathering of Coloradans seeking healthy foods. I’ve done two Harvest Fridays so far, and each day we’ve worked until almost 5PM. It’s a lot of work, but the volunteers are all awesome, interesting people who willingly share insight into the many possibilities of hiking and coffee shopping and activities of which I could not have previously conceived. It all feels like initiation into this bountiful land.
On the property lives a great cast of characters, all of whom rent rooms and trailers and work various jobs in town. Sometimes they will volunteer their labor to help out the farm, in exchange receiving some fine, fresh produce. I’m looking forward to getting to know all of them better, as every person on the farm has greeted me with warmth and generosity of spirit, never looking down on me as the “new WWOOFer” but rather expressing genuine interest in getting to know me and my interests in being here.
Nights are calm and quiet. Typically, everyone does their own thing. I’ve been retiring early—at 9PM or so—into my little nook, meditating over a candle, sipping warm tea. Last night I drank Valerian Root tea, and as Ben had prophesied, it yielded incredibly vivid dreams. Even without the valerian, I’ve been having extremely vivid dreams since being here, all of them quite strange. I think our dreams reflect our changes in life. I am processing so much as my life is changing, and my dreams are providing images entirely different than any I have experienced before. I take this as a sign I am navigating entirely new emotions and entering territory of the psyche I have not entered before. It’s an exciting time, even when the dreams are frightening. Perhaps as I grow bolder I’ll share some of this strangeness with you. Then again, most people don’t want to hear about other people’s dreams.
Every once in a while several people on the property come together for a spontaneous community meal. The other night, Chase, a fellow who lives on property and works at the local food co-op, offered to cook up breakfast burritos with very fine chorizo he’s procured at his workplace. Though I had not spoken to him much, he invited me to join. He and Lindsey prepared everything and let me and Ben and Nora have away at the extremely delicious–I’m talking restaurant quality–and filling food. He asked nothing in return, and he smiled warmly and patted my back as I sat beside him and dined.
I’m continually inspired by people’s willingness to give. Every time someone gives so generously, I want to give something back to them, to others, and to the Earth. I’ve started cooking for my RV roommate and it feels good every time I do. As a very special person pointed out to me, the Earth is like this. It gives us so much, and it asks nothing in return. But then again, it asks us to respect it. And why wouldn’t we respect it? Why have I not respected it in the past? I intend to respect it and learn new ways to respect it. This is part of what I am learning. I am so stoked that Colorado is filled with so many joyous people who love and respect this remarkable land.