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
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 email@example.com.
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.