I can't believe it's been almost a year since my trip to Oz Farm. While many college students head south to party, escape the cold and work on their tans, I took the 'alternative' route and went west, to work on a farm. Last year I went on an alternative spring break trip with the Jewish Farm School to Oz Farm in California. Though Oz was briefly mentioned before, I have yet to write, in detail, the impact of my time spent on the farm. In memoriam of the one year anniversary of my alternative spring break I want to dedicate the next two posts to my food journey over the past year. This post portrays the trip for what it was and the next one (which will be published tomorrow) will be a bit more analytical as I correlate my week on the farm with the impact of my food journey.
The Jewish Farm School can best be described as "an environmental education organization whose mission is to practice and promote sustainable agriculture and to support food systems rooted in justice and Jewish traditions. Aspirations of the Jewish Farm School are driven by the traditions of using food as a tool for social justice and spiritual mindfulness. Through our programs, we address the injustices embedded in today’s mainstream food systems and work to create greater access to sustainably grown foods, produced from a consciousness of both ecological and social well being."
For six nights I slept in a cabin with three other girls, without heat, warm water or electricity.
Wait, I lied we did have heat... when we could light the stove. I was never a 'camp' kind of girl, nor a girl scout, so the experience proved itself to be very challenging.
The entire farm uses off-the-grid power, so we had to be mindful of water and electricity usage-- when showering, cooking and getting ready for bed. Until the trip, I was definitely one to leave the water running while I brushed my teeth!
The itinerary for the week was slightly laborious, but mostly fun and always meaningful. We woke up at the crack of dawn (and at a mere 40-something degrees), headed to the community house and prepared breakfast for the group. Every bite that entered our mouths was natural, organic, fairly traded and/or harvested with our own hands. There was no use of artificial flavors, chemicals or GMO's. After a fully fueled and wholesome meal, we broke off into our morning groups and went to work.
Daily tasks included harvesting the ingredients needed for our next meal, planting potatoes, shoveling manure, shucking beans and debarking wood for the cob stone oven :). After the first day, I was in complete awe and admiration. I couldn't believe how physically tired yet emotionally satisfied and proud I was to experience the magnitude of time and effort that went into the preparation of my dinner. I knew precisely where each ingredient came from and how it was harvested and prepared. There were no mysteries, no additives-- just whole, flavorful and natural ingredients, the way God intended food to be.
In addition to physical work on the farm and in the kitchen, many workshops were prepared and lessons were taught. From early morning yoga sessions in the barn to text studies in the library and from celebrations on the lawn to ethical and educational discussions on the porch, there was plenty to be mindful of, interpreted and internalized-- according to individual beliefs and spiritual practices. Tomorrow I will share what I learned and the impact it has had on my journey with food thus far.