Walking together

FootCareClinicATHikerRMMLast week we had one of those Stony Point moments that I have come to love. It requires a backstory. Farmworkers in New York are excluded from NY State Labor Law and they have been walking from Long Island to Albany over the past few weeks to bring attention to their situation. We asked if they could come and spend a night with us after their day hiking across the river in Westchester County. Simultaneously, Will and Amy in our community have been hatching the idea of holding a monthly meal to invite local friends to come hang out with the community. 

We ended up with about 30 of us in the Gilmor Sloane House: farmworkers and their allies, one of the RCC international students who has been living with us this spring, a retired Korean Presbyterian Pastor who was sojourning with us, a young Jewish man thinking about coming to live here, and three Appalachian Trail thruhikers who were spending the night. The stories shared by the farmworkers were powerful and disturbing. As one farmworker shared her story, she spoke about the trouble she was having with her feet on the march (You can learn more about their journey at www.ruralmigrantministry.org).

"Step and a Half" (our hiker guests typically have trail names) immediately volunteered to hold a foot clinic later in the evening. As the evening came to a close, he went to his room and collected his foot care kit and then spent the next hour caring for the feet of the walkers. It made me think again about the need for common space where we can overlap with one another in surprising ways. These tender moments are my favorite.


Farm Update: April 2016

See the video here.

Will: Welcome to the SPC greenhouse where it’s time for the spring edition of the Soil Report where you get to find out what’s going in the ground at SPC and what’s happening on the ground with food justice.

What’s Happening with the Ground…

So, it’s spring. I’ve got my spring haircut and we’re doing a lot of work preparing the soil. That’s our main focus in the spring. On these rainy days and these sunny days we get to work in a lot of different kinds of weather. What we’re doing, primarily, is amending that soil with our compost. And, so, I’ve been watching Amirah turning our compost with the tractor: She’s taking these big scoops of it with the tractor bucket and moving it from place to place in our compost pile to aerate it, and now we’ve got a really nice product that we’re applying to our fields.

So, what we do is we sometimes take it with the tractor and take it directly to the fields but a lot of times we’re just doing a little bit at a time, so we are just shoveling compost into the wheelbarrow, hauling it up the hill (which is hard work), and then placing it in the fields where we the spread it around with the rake or shovel (making sure it gets around into where we’re going to plant). Then we take our broadfork (which is one of our favorite tools here at SPC) and we work with the soil using the broadfork. We’re aerating it, we’re turning it, we’re churning it, we’re activating those organisms that have been hibernating all winter as the soil warms up. Once we get the area broakforked where we’re going to plant, we go over it lightly with the rake again, shape the bed a little bit and it is ready for seeding or transplanting.

What’s Happening in the Ground…

Amirah: We have a lot going in the ground in these spring months at SPC Farm. We first transplanted things here in our raised beds in the greenhouse. We have lots of lettuce ready to go, growing and doing quite well. We also transplanted spinach in our greenhouse. We’ve started in the fields and we’ve transplanted kale, cabbage, arugula, and Swiss chard. Yesterday we started seeding in the fields. We have a whole bed of carrots ready to go and some parsnips and daicon radish. We have a really nice, slow, steady rain today. We’ve got a lot in the ground ready to go and hopefully temperatures will rise and we’ll have warm weather along with this really beautiful rain.

What’s Happening on the Ground…

Will: So this spring, we’ve had a couple of interesting opportunities in terms of food justice and education. We have been able to interact with a couple of different groups of students. The first of those opportunities came because Sahar, one of the members of our Community of Living Traditions, she invited us to El Iman’s School in Queens to talk about the work that we’re doing on our farm with a group of middle and high school students. So, Amirah and I went to that school, gave a presentation, showed them a lot of photos, and they asked a lot of really great questions. They were really interested in what is going on on our farm and the kind of work that we do, not only with the farm and planting, but also with some of our food justice work. They were really interested in our boycott of Wendy’s because that is a fast food chain that they’re familiar with and our support of the CIW’s boycott of Wendy’s.

Amirah: I really appreciated the experience of sharing and answering questions around what it’s like to be a Muslim working at SPC Farm and living within this community. It was such a great opportunity and really allowed for me to think about those questions and interact with those kids who I felt a really great connection with. I had a really great time.

The class that we had here at SPC Farm was a group of high schools from an art school in Brooklyn. They came and worked really hard in preparing one of our fields where we’re planting blueberries in just a few days. They were double digging rows. We worked through a little bit of snow, little rain. It got really hot at one point. They worked really hard and I enjoyed working along with them. They were encouraging each other and teasing each other and it was just a great afternoon. We’re looking forward to welcoming them back in just a few days.

Will: So, that’s just about it from the SPC Farm for this month. Hope you enjoyed hearing what’s going on in the ground and what’s happening on the ground here with our food growing and our food justice. I know we’ll see you in May.