There’s nothing like a visiting school group to make the farm come alive. This morning we toured Khabele School kindergartners around the fields and introduced them to horse, goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens and Guinea hens. We showed them sustainable systems – spent grain used for feed, drip irrigation used for water conservation, etc. — and ensured plenty of time for independent, tantalizing discoveries like ladies bugs, blue eggs, and feathers.
For me, one of the best aspects of their visit was when a red-headed six-year-old asked “How do you make compost?” Instead of me or our new Farm Educator Michele answering, fifth graders from Austin Jewish Academy (AJA) jumped in with a detailed explanation. The fifth graders had been setting up a new compost pile and were eager to share their knowledge. Hearing them take ownership of their work and newfound expertise made me so proud.
This is the third year that our farm has had the pleasure of working with AJA teacher Karen Hidalgo on experiential and service learning. Each week of our spring season, her AJA fifth graders spend the day at our farm. Our hayloft becomes a classroom then they lend a hand on farm projects that evolve with the season.
This week’s Farm Talk was about food deserts. We explained that our farm exists to feed neighbors of all incomes, then discussed the ways our farm and other small family farms care for their communities – through food donations, gleaning, trading food for work, supporting WIC/SNAP, participating in our city’s Sustainable Food Policy Board and partnering with nonprofits like Sustainable Food Center that help people learn to grow their own food.
As we reviewed new concepts, the kids took note and I relished the breeze carrying the sweet scent of bluebonnets through the hayloft, roosters crowing, goats complaining, staff sliding coolers full of fat CSA shares across the brick floor in the barn below, and I felt renewed.
I gave thanks for the community that supported us in the aftermath of Skip’s car accident and has helped us resurrect the farm. Time to look ahead to more Field Trips, Farm Camps and the first of the spring Flower Shares.
So, in the spirit of Resurrection, I offer a poem from our former Farm Educator (now Tecolote Farm employee) Jim Dauster.
Every Day an Eschaton
To farm is to practice resurrection.
We bring dead soils back to life,
a necromancy of manure, minerals,
compost, and love.
Each day we coax plants into this
world, watch them grow a season,
die, and bring them back again
Weeds need no divination, they resurrect
themselves, despite our best attempts
to keep them in their soil sepulcher. Every
day we send them back to the depths,
and the next they return.
Alchemical balance, we plow the
edge between life and death.
Hard work; every day an eschaton.
Jim Dauster is a farmer, poet, and educator who helps manage Tecolote Farm in Manor, TX, having spent the previous summer wrangling goats, rabbits and children at The New Farm Institute’s Farm Institute’s Farm Camp.