2005. This journal entry comes at the end
of moving out of our farm and finds me in an accordingly good
mood (kidding). Moving is a major undertaking anyway you slice
it, but moving out of a farm is a gargantuan task—especially
when you don’t have a new farm to move into.
As of August 1, Alec is living with a friend of ours in Modesto
who fortunately has a very large backyard. The majority of
our plants are there, living in the suburbs now. A few plants
have made their way to my parents’ farm, where I’m
living for the time being with my two dogs and cat in the
middle room of my parents’ tank house. The dogs seem
to love the tight quarters and being able to climb in bed
with me. The cat has claimed the top level of the tank house
as her safe haven away from my parents’ two dogs. And
I’m feeling more than a little cramped while I anxiously
await my next move at the end of this month.
I’ve landed a teaching job at a charter school in Modesto
and will be teaching a 4th/5th-grade combo class there. My
plants will be making their way to the school soon, and I’ll
be getting my hands into our little school garden shortly
thereafter. Despite the lack of space at my school—we
have ten classrooms and more 200 students on about an acre—there
is a fair bit of space dedicated to its current dilapidated
garden and more adjacent space. The adjacent space wraps around
the back of my classroom and leads to a spot where the sidewalks
ends—a nice synergy with one of my favorite kids’
books and one idea for a catchy garden name.
I’ll be searching for grants for our school garden,
so if anyone has any leads, ideas, or stories to share about
their school gardens, I’d love to hear from you. You
can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been dreaming for a long while of helping to connect
a school garden with the students’ lunch program, but
we don’t have a cafeteria at our school. Our food is
prepared offsite and then delivered a la Meals on Wheels.
Connecting those dots will take a bit more legwork than will
getting the garden back into operation.
We still have a few things remaining at the farm. The chickens
and rabbits are still there. The chickens have future homes,
but we need to find a place for the rabbits. My new home will
likely be an apartment with a patio where I’ll be lucky
to have my dog and cat. I think taking the rabbits might be
pushing it. I’m hoping Alec’s roommate might just
fall in love with the compost Alec brought to his place and
decide he needs rabbit droppings to perfect his own compost.
And yes, Alec took two truckloads of compost to his new home
in Modesto. Plus all of the plants we pulled out of the ground.
Plus tools. Plus chickens…and then there’s the
work to build them a new coop for their new home. I think
you get the idea of how this move has gone.
I thought I’d worked through the emotional part of
having to leave our farm but found the first visit from my
cousin’s realtor and her clients was enough to level
the foundation of calm I thought I’d built. I pulled
into my driveway to find them there with their big truck and
their “W” sticker and just felt it was so unfair.
They were perfectly nice people, but the politics and the
truck symbolized to me everything that’s wrong with
the status quo in farming around here. I’m afraid my
grandpa’s organic farm will be lost to a dairy industry
farmer who will pull out the trees, replant the land with
GM corn for silage, tear down the old 1,000-square-foot house
and build a 2,500-square-foot custom home, and work the soil
to death with an endless cycle of tractor cultivation, planting
of mutant corn pumped with anhydrous nitrogen, and harvesting
by a monstrous machine that tosses it into diesel trucks to
be taken to the dairy.
If you’re interested in seeing the listing for our
farm, it’s listed with Coldwell Banker. You can get
to it on their website by searching “Hilmar, CA.”
It’s the one listed for $650,000 though the last I heard
my cousin had upped it to $700,000. Interestingly, the 20-acre
farm next door went on the market at about the same time,
supposedly for over $900,000. These are fascinating times.