Posted by: A Part of the Solution | May 2, 2010

The First Farm Work Party

Where do you go to get deeper knowledge of the ecosystem from an agricultural perspective, a free lunch, a walk in the woods, a bale of hay, and a vitamin-D intensive workout? You go to the Farm Work Party, of course.

On a farm, you can meet–and be hands on with– the soil and plants contributing to your health and gustatory satisfaction. At our work party, you can commune with the chickens as they crowd around to eat tent caterpillars from your hand. At our volunteer day, you can practice new applications of old skills: build a chicken coop, make cat-food, mend a quilt, harvest wild foods, foil pests organically, transplant hundreds of tomatoes, clean with cornstarch and flax oil.

We did all these things and more. And we ate, my how we ate! Our over-night workers enjoyed apple-raisin-walnut muffins with apple butter, grapefruit, and coffee whitened with locally produced raw milk. Mini-muffins, freshly baked spice cookies and no bake cookies were available by noon.

After the woods walk and fern collection, black bean soup–lime wedges and hot sauce on the side–was accompanied by multi-grain sourdough and mushroom shallot terrine.Afterward, our work-force had been in the field revived themselves with ice cold water, carrot sticks and those delicious no bake cookies. More working, more snacking and more refreshing water.

As evening drew on, we switched our laborers to lime syrup (1 part lime, 1 part sugar, 2 parts water, 1/2 the zest of the limes and a pinch of salt–boil for ten minutes, allow to cool, bottle and store refrigerated for 2 weeks) on ice with sparkling mineral water to cut it and give it bubbles. Those who were of age, and consenting, received doses of iced vodka in their ‘limonadas’. This pick-me-up softened sore muscles and roused flagging spirits before they dove valiantly into ferning the west border of the house.

Dinner was served after the power tools and the chickens had been put to bed, dry and safe. Work party members sat down with the farm family to meatballs made with feta from Hidden Hills Dairy in a rich tomato mushroom sauce over fettucine. More sourdough was on the table for those who wanted any. When dinner had settled, wam apple crisp with house-made creme fraiche came to the table.

Did anything besides lucullan pleasuring and sylvan frolicking get done you may ask youself with some reason. Volunteers assisted in framing and raising the long walls of the chicken coop. Potatoes, peas, and scores upon scores of onions were planted. People prepared the ground so that kale went in on the morning crew the next day.  Folks made the west border lovely and balanced by Robin Hood style landscaping on the fly. Our designated chicken wranglers assisted the adolescent Wyandottes in transitioning to truly free-range status. The help tidied and sorted tools and equipment before they knocked off for the day.

It was just super. Thanks to those who were here to help. Everyone else should try to come on out and enjoy getting their hands dirty next time.

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