Reflecting on the past school year

Blog written by Nancy

Writing this post as farm school winds down is giving me a chance to reflect on the year.  What a year!  I can honestly say that this has been one of the the best of my life.  I came to farm school after several years of volunteering on a farm, experimenting with organic growing in my own garden, and completing a permaculture design certificate.  Farm school seemed like the next step in my learning journey.  I wasn’t sure where it would lead but I knew that I needed to nurture my interconnectedness with nature.  This is where I learned and practiced how to steward the land in a regenerative way.

nancy chicken
Catching my first chicken

While it’s hard to summarize an experience like this, here are some highlights:

  • I got to really connect with that part of myself that was always fascinated with nature and how things grow.
  • I had so many firsts… taking care of chickens, driving a tractor, pruning tomatoes, making compost tea, helping to build a shed and caterpillar tunnels… it was exciting and challenging and confidence building.
  • I felt inspired and empowered by all of the women involved – teachers and fellow students – it makes it seem more possible that I can also make my personal dream of being a farmer a reality!
  • I got to share my tractor driving with my young nephew who’s obsessed with them – what a cool auntie 🙂
  • I got top notch instruction. This school has amazing, passionate, highly experienced and knowledgable teachers.
  • I saw how farmers need to be flexible and adapt to the ever changing conditions of weather and the ecological state of the land.
  • I noticed how much happier and fulfilled I feel living in alignment with the natural rhythms of the seasons and the earth.
  • I spent time with folks who also geek out on soil, plants, birds and insects.
  • There was Nena the farm chihuahua sunning herself on the beach (sandpile) and the joy of her finally flipping on her back for a tummy rub from me.
  • And of course, there were the farm kittens – Thelma and Louise.

And then there is the oasis that the 20-acre Tsawwassen Farm School is becoming.  Amongst the conventional potato and blueberry farms here exists a parcel of land that is reclaiming the soil through sustainable farming practices.  The soil is coming back to life.  This is evident not only in the numbers of bumblebees and ladybugs (and caterpillars) that showed up this year, but also in the numbers of birds feasting on the abundance and finding homes to raise their offspring.  We found a tree swallow nest in the spring, the sunflowers provided a fall feast for a local flock of red winged blackbirds, and raptors overhead regularly scan for rabbits and voles.

Farm school hasn’t changed my perspectives on food and the earth.  I think I was already in the process of making those changes; of seeing the value in small-scale, local, regenerative food production.  What it has done has deepened my resolve to become a steward of the land.  I’m not alone in my longing to have a more intimate connection to the earth.  It has brought me into contact with other people who also see the value in taking care of the earth so that it in turn can take care of us.

 

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