CSA Week #1: Wild Greens

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word weed lately, and what it was that my ancestors ate. Finding pre-contact information on the Sinixt peoples is very hard, authentic and correct information is even harder. Often when natives people did write information down or agreed to be recorded or observed they often changed some of the details, omitted information, did something the incorrect way. I’ve been told that even today first nations peoples won’t share certain details, so much has already been taken, now it’s more important than ever to keep these details to themselves and within the tribes and off the record. It’s an effort to preserve culture and tradition. It also means that sometimes we lose some of the ‘real’ knowledge when our elders die and all we have to go off of is the wrong way a European anthropologist managed to record.

It’s also an act that creates a hierarchy of those privy to the correct details and those who aren’t. I often find myself at the furthest outer ring of access to this information. I am unrecognized by my tribe and I am white passing, middle class, off-rez, urban Indian with a college education. I have privilege and that modern day privilege means that most natives don’t think I am deserving of cultural privilege. What I learn I gain from books and ‘Uncle Google’ as we call it at Wisdom of the Elders. I am not alone though, even those who grow up on the reservation don’t always have access to the same cultural and traditional information. And when your reservation is made up of 14 tribes and your grandmother didn’t know what tribe you were descendants from until 7 years ago and as recently as 2017 your tribe was considered extinct, well, the odds aren’t stacked in your favor. It’s a lot to untangle. With the support of my peers and the elders I’ve meet at Wisdom of the Elders, NAYA, etc. I’ve learned and been encouraged to jump in, go for it, and not worry so much about the ‘right’ way. I’ve come to understand that I am the human form of Chinook Jargon, and that I am as authentic and true as that language and that my cultural heritage is going to resemble some of those same mash-ups, mispronunciations and intentional mistakes. And that this is all ‘authentic’.

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When it comes to the word weeds I like to think my people are as tough as the weeds. And that this word, weed, is really just used to describe a plant in a location unsatisfactory to a human. Really, a lot of plants we call weeds are really rather useful, and if not to us to the other animals and plants surrounding us that we might rely on. So in this weeks first CSA share you’re gonna eat your green weeds. You’ll find that most of them are naturalized transplants from Europe. They aren’t ‘Native’ but I assure you, they are First Foods my ancestors ate. Some people might say, they ate those weeds because they were poor. And that might be partially true but I also think that the word weed has been used in such a derogatory way that in the past it helped distinguish social hierarchies and shame people into buying in to commercial vegetable varieties, distancing us from the land and sustenance living. Through it’s use, people were encouraged to spend money on specific types of foods and to stop foraging, stop teaching the next generation and to be more reliant on a economy, middle men, government all bent on making a profit, capitalism. I believe it was a method of disenfranchising folks.

I am here to decolonize this way of thinking, to challenge it through our diets, to explore this tangled web of history and how it shaped the very basic human need to eat. I hope you enjoy thinking about this, about what it took to develop strawberries from the tiny wild ones to the larger plump varieties we have access to today. We wouldn’t have those big plump ones without the little wild ones. Through eating, we are saving them, calling attention to them, saying we like them and want to preserve the older, more resilient and weedy strawberry variety. We don’t know when we’ll need those older genetics later, after cultivated strawberries succumb to a virus, pest or disease.

The four stages to prepping Burdock root, Wash well, Cut the tops off, Scrape backwards down the root removing hairs and outer skin, shred or cut Sasagaki, then soak in a cold water bath.

Part of the use of weed is also the unknown and fear that come with eating them. If you google some of these plants the authors will warn you against eating them altogether, or eating too much, or the wrong part. After digging into a variety of different weeds I have come to expect that my first search is going to result in a bunch of warnings before I find information support the use and consumption of these plants. Often these plants are widely used and even cultivated and domesticated for specific characteristics in other countries, such as Burdock Root in Japan. You can eat any burdock root, just some of it is gonna be tiny and hairy, or really bitter tasting, or just a lot of work for a little reward. Just like there is a white Camas that is totally safe to eat but since there is also a white flowered Death Camas the internet will just tell you to never eat ANY white Camas like flower and bulb. Which, I get it, better safe than sorry. But so safe that we are afraid of everything? There are several ways to test a plant to see if you are allergic to it. Rub a patch on your hand or wrist, if you get a reaction, don’t eat it. No reaction after 1 hr – 24hrs? Take a nibble, if your mouth gets kind itchy don’t move forward. No reaction, make a small meal, make a bigger meal, etc. until you just know you are good to go.

I get that I am crossing a capitalism and health industry line here. But just like peanut butter, strawberries, dairy, gluten, burdock root, just because I put it in your CSA box, if you are allergic don’t eat it and tell me so I can do my best to separate the foods you can eat from the foods you can’t. And the old adage, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, that’s what all preventable dietary diseases come from: too much pizza = heartburn, too much salt and my chest feels crushed, too much alcohol can shut down your liver. But the reverse is true, to little salt during a hot day and your body will lack electrolytes, sweating all the salt and other trace minerals out.

Chopping Plantain, Burdock leaves and cracking open walnuts with our nut cracker (channel lock pliers)

You are CSA members of Good Rain Farm, or readers of this blog. You are bold and smart and adventurous. I hope you try something new and are safe and have fun doing it. Thank you for joining me on the journey to uncover and explore what the first nations of the PNW, but really all our Ancestors ate and together we’ll fight back against the industrial machine our food system as become, gaining back some of our food sovereignty!

Your Farmer,

Michelle

The Season Has Begun

Whoa, is it Summer already?! Holy cow!

This post will be mostly about what I have been up to on the Farm and in life… which pretty much revolves around the Farm.

Each Day I wake up around 5:30 am. I head up to the Farm, feed & water all the critters and plants, collect eggs, open up the green house so that all the baby plants don’t over heat. On Tues, Weds & Thursdays I then head off to my paid internship with Wisdom of the Elders. My Stipend is something like $7.80/hr. It’s not much but I get to hang out with other aspiring Native American Farmers and learn all about Native Plants, when to take cuttings, when to collect seed, how to plant & propagate. But most importantly I am surrounded by community, learning my heritage, learning the stories of the People Eater, Elk and the Salmon Berry, of a Lover’s Quarrel that lead to the lack of Camas root growing in Okanogan Territory, of how Black Moss (looks like someones black braids) came to be food when Coyotes antics lead to the death of his youngest son. Learning, sharing, visiting with my Grandma, it’s worth every hour I spend with Wisdom’s Agricultural Business Incubator program crew.

Unfortunately as a result of the internship I Spend every morning and evening driving back and forth to Camas and Portland. I spend 10 hours a day for 4 days (Fri, Sat, Sun & Mon) working my tail off to get the work here on the Farm done so that I can feed those of you who are CSA members and those I hope to meet at the Farmer’s Markets.

The Farm isn’t immune to Murphy’s Law and I am yet to be in a position to successfully weather the downs. What can go wrong, has gone wrong.

If you recall the green house exploded, and I had to wait for enough CSA money to come in before I could afford to buy a new one, then I had to borrow a trailer from my Father and a Truck from my Step-dad and then I didn’t have the right ball hitch and the morning of the pick up I was at Home Depot at 6am buying one, then I had to be patient with the help and labor of my boyfriend Trevor, then we found out they sent me off with the wrong parts, then Trevor solved that problem, then my Grandmother and Mother helped me get the plastic installed and all this took place on the weekend days over three weeks after I had already be without a greenhouse for two months. My back-up baby plant nursery caused the babes to reach and I almost thought I had lost them all, but some how they have hung on.

I thought I killed all the herbs because I couldn’t get in the soil as early as I had hoped – turns out they are hardy plants and are bouncing back.

The chicken’s where laying eggs and roosting all over the barn and exploring further and further away during the day. I knew we were playing a dangerous game of Prey and Predator and an Easter Egg hunt that wouldn’t end until sometime this July when I am sure I’ll accidentally crack open a rotten egg.

And it rained, Oh, I love the rain, Sq̓it, I named my Farm for it after all. But I couldn’t till in the cover crop and start work on the soil. I waited for good weather and for CSA member money to again come in so that I could slowly stock pile the necessary soil amendments that would insure strong, nutritious and healthy veggies.

Then I started planting, and then I laid out the drip tape. Then I went to the pump to turn it on and it had a big old crack. We are now currently waiting for a replacement part and I am doing my best to water all the plants that are in the ground now and to get those plants in desperate need into the ground as fast as I can.

I think, I believe, I am working so hard to start our CSA on time this year. I want you to know that. I don’t currently pull a wage from the Farm, most all the money coming in is going right back into the business. I suppose as CSA members you know, you’ve read the disclaimer and you are ready for the ups and downs. I want to prepare you for a small CSA share beginning or even a late start. But know that in June when my internship ends the Farm will be my sole focus but until it can pay me $2k a month I cannot yet rely on it as my sole income and will be working 1, 2 even three days a week elsewhere. Your farmer’s gatta pay her rent, gas, insurance, debt and living costs just as you.

I greatly appreciate your patience and support as I complete this amazing internship experience, developing invaluable relationships and knowledge. I hope you look forward to learning, eating and hearing all the stories my ancestors managed to record enabling me to share them and the taste of them with you. I dream of a day where we gather under the Oaks, surrounded by Camas Lily and feast on Salmon berry pemmican (Vegan Acorn Flour Version?), roasted Camas Root and fresh spring foraged salads with a warm fire, comfortable chairs and I am up in front of you performing an Oral Story of the foods we are eating, who gave their lives to nourish ours.

All My Gratitude, Lim̓lm̓t,

Farmer Michelle and the Farm-ly

Field Conversations

Today was my last day at my work-trade/internship at Full Plate Farm. All winter I’ve been working ever other Tuesday helping harvest, wash and pack Winter CSA shares for folx. These last few weeks I switched to Mondays, a larger harvest crew works these days, and I really enjoyed meeting everyone I worked alongside.

This last Monday we had some really thoughtful and wonderful field conversations. At one point we talked about language. Who determines what is right or wrong? Who controls language? What is proper? It all got started when Annie was trying to remember the Native name for Mt. Adams. I responded, it’s Klickitat. St. Helens is also known as Loowit and Mt. Hood is Wy’East. Annie knew that the Chinook would have used these names.

Native Food Soveriengty

I will be speaking tomorrow night at the Slow Food SW Wa Social more around this topic and my personal journey into farming as a career path. These are slides from a presentation I gave at PSU.

I added, ‘and the Molala, Klickitat, and Wascos.’ ‘You know, the mountains have different names depending on where you stand and face them.’ This intrigued the harvest crew.

‘The Yakima and the Tahoma, the Cowlitz, all these tribes, they had their own version of Salishan language and different stories and names for all the mountains from their perspective.’ This got us going. One person on the crew had traveled Indonesia and SE Asia, they spoke about who different regions and even one town over there were different versions of the same language and religions. Matt talked about different ways his family said the same thing, I related, my grandmother says ‘Worshington’ instead of Washington. So then I mentioned how so many place, towns, streets have names that derive from Chinook Jargon. A very common mash up of English, French and all these different versions of Salish. It was like a really common form of Spanglish.

‘But you know, it’s all butchered jargon mash-ups’ I was saying, ‘I was once corrected on how to pronounce Salish once. I was caught off guard by that. I later YouTube’d a bunch of videos and there are several different Native speakers pronouncing it in many different ways. None of these names or words how we say them today are ‘authentic’. They have all changed with time.’

This all got us thinking about our ancestors, some one pipped up speaking in Shake-spearing English. It was a real conversation and it was an honest conversation, it was happy and yet it was sad. It reminded me about a book I had read about animal intelligence. How scientists applauded that ability of a Gorilla to respond to questions using Sign Language. How ultimately they determined the Gorilla was no smarter than a 4th grader. The spoke to how ridiculous and degrading that was, how speciest, human superiority and biased that was to reduce the Gorillas intelligence to a young person. The Gorilla was after all hearing English, translating it to Gorilla and replying in Sign Language. That Gorilla was a genius!! It’s unjust and unfair to question a captive Gorillas intelligence. first foods slide

It’s how I felt when the USDA employee at the Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Materials Center told me after my constant ‘Is this edible? Have you tried this? That’s Edible!’ ‘There’s a reason we bred plants’. 

That struck me hard. In the heart, in my head. No. My people never ‘bred’ plants to the extent that Europeans have bred plants or animals. The Pacific Northwest is a lush forest, rich in diversity, shelter, food, resources. The Natives of the Pacific Northwest never needed to control their foods to such an extreme extent. Yes we tended to plants, probably replanting and caring extra special to the tastiest patches. They definitely steward the land, practicing land management such as controlled burns and weeding and thinning. But there was no reason to twist a plant out of it’s comfort range, there was no reason to take a Wolf and make a Yorki out of it. There was so much food and resources here in the Pacific Northwest there was no reason to breed a plant for maximum production. There was so much here before settlers began arriving that twice as many people lived on this land than today. TODAY! There are less people living on this land than lived here in the past. And we have so little left of what was here. I tear up thinking about what happened. What went wrong?

I think about programs like WIC, Double Up Food Bucks, Food Stamps, the value of food. People can’t afford the extremely undervalued food we produce, how on earth will they afford nutritious, organic, local foods?! Especially if these programs are threatened with defunding?

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And how can it be that I am in an Agricultural Business Internship through Wisdom of the Elders with five other Natives and we are being taught by white, privileged, degree holding ‘professionals’ how to propagate, collect seed and care for our Native Plants. That we don’t know which plants are medicine, or food, or resource? The remnants of First Nations languages are on strip mall signs, used in middle school names, on bridges and we don’t know the land any more. I have struggled to learn my language, to learn Sinixt traditions, to learn what to eat and how, and I strive to share that with you all. It’s not always fun, to be honest, it hurts sometimes. By sharing and eating these foods, by using them, we’ll build respect and relationships with them. And ultimately that is the language of Animacy and reverence. Something Robin Wall Kimmer speaks to. It’s a language of acknowledging that a Gorilla might be a stronger, better linguist than myself. That a Tree might be wiser and more informed than we are. That rocks have been around for a real long time and can teach us so much about our history here on this land, if only we stop to listen.

This was our last 2018/2019 Harvest Crew Field conversation for the season. I think, it sent us off into the whirlwind of the 2019 Summer Season in a more grounded and aware state of being that’ll keep us steady in all the chaos. I hope we all carry a little more respect for the non-human, non-animate creatures in our world, water, dirt, rocks, trees, flowers, slime. They all breath and live, just differently than you and me. And that’s okay.

Lim̓lm̓t,

Thank you from your farmer,

Michelle Week

The Future is ours. It’s shaped now.

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I can’t begin to pick apart how interconnected Food is in our lives. Food is a large part of our cultures, traditions, moments of bonding. Food impacts our health, physical and mental. Food exists outside in the ecosystems impacting and being affected by Climate Change. Food is social justice, our society withholds it from some and over feeds others. Food does poorly in a capitalistic society, farmers are underpaid, farm workers are underpaid, we under value food. Food that along with air and water sustains us and all our other endeavors. Food is important.

I was recently told “No Money, No Mission.” It’s the truth within capitalism. Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA’s, is one way that the Farm insures it’s financial well being. Without your early season infusion of cash I cannot support the mission of this farm. On the farm we endeavor to offer clean, transparent, local produce to our community. We attempt to educate our community about what it takes to operate a farm, how our food system is shaped, and where we can all come together to build a more equitable, resilient food system through decolonizing and challenging our assumptions of what food is. How our diets impact others in our community, be them human, flora or fauna.

“With access to a farm, many are dazzled by the bounty and wonders of nature. I love to see grown people awed by the delicate beauty of a carrot seedling.” ~Robyn Van En

robynOne of the originators of the CSA model in the United States, Robyn, founded the first CSA Farm in Massachusetts in 1986 (I am almost as old as CSA’s! DOB 1987!) She travelled the states supporting and developing CSA Farms and later travelled the world in support of farmers seeking to build community sovereignty in the form of feeding their communities as well as financial freedom to do so. Her joy is my joy, I love welcoming folxs onto the Farm. I love sharing my passion, expertise and vision with you all.

CSA’s don’t happen without the support of our community. I couldn’t offer such good, clean, transparent food without y’alls support, especially financially. I’ve secured the land, I am putting in the labor, I’m learning a lot of new skills to grow food. I need your help in spreading the word, in helping to broaden this community, welcoming friends and family into the joys of knowing your farmer, eating fresh transparent food and visiting the birthplace of those foods! CSA’s aren’t for everyone, and ultimately I would like to offer a more flexible version for those who’d rather visit me at the Farmer’s Market and pick out the foods they eat. I am but one woman, however. So please, stay tuned! Additionally I am working on being able to accept Food Bucks and EBT (Food Stamps) just as soon as I wade through all the paperwork. I have also talked with the Clark County Food Bank in supporting the formation of a volunteer Glean Team who’ll visit area farms and harvest the extra yummy produce that’s still in the fields but maybe isn’t of quantity enough to justify labor costs to collect it. They’ll help distribute that extra produce amongst those who are experiencing difficulty in accessing good, whole, sustainably grown fresh foods.

If you haven’t joined Good Rain’s CSA yet, today is the day! is the day! You can learn more about our specific CSA CSA Membership here here. To those who have already joined, my deepest gratitude, thank you for believing in my vision, for supporting me through my growing pains. I cannot do this work without the support of the community. When you join a CSA you aren’t just supporting local business, your insuring that Good Rain Farm can feed our community in perpetual. That we save a little slice of agriculture land to grow local foods on. We create a place where growth and education in all forms can flourish, where connection to place becomes tangible. Edible! Today we make decisions that shape tomorrow, that shape the future we wish to be in. I hope you share in my vision of food resiliency, a world where food traditions of all kinds, but especially Native, thrive through living daily acts of necessity and honor.

Lim̓lm̓t,

Thank you from your farmer,

Michelle Week

Coyotes Best Swimmers (Salmon!)

salmonsafeThe Farm became Salmon Safe Certified on February 14th! I am so excited to share this news with you all! I was also very happy that the Clark Conservation District had a grant and was able to fund this certificate and will hopefully be supplying a slick sign and maybe help us out with furthering our soil and water conservation efforts! I had spoken with a person who had worked on other Farm certifications and projects required to meet the conditions of Salmon Safe. They were disappointed and felt that the certification wasn’t doing as much as it could to support Salmon, other wildlife and their habitats. I was struck by the list of acceptable chemical fertilizers and pesticides approved for use if you show your awareness of wind drift or water flow on the day of application. On Good Rain Farm, on x̌ast sq̓it, we don’t apply anything that’s not OMRI approved and only then if absolutely necessary. I want you all to know that the Farm didn’t need to complete any additional projects to meet the requirements and that’s due to how I have always viewed the world around me, how I will always treat the world I breath in, live in. It’s a testament to our farming philosophy that our certification was easy peezy!

Those concerns about the Salmon Safe certification? I hear them, I feel them, it’s how I feel about all certifications, labels, announcements, marketing. It’s why the Farm isn’t currently Organic Certified, we certainly meet or exceed all those qualifications, but the time- Oh! The time of keeping records, the time of hosting an inspector, the MONEY! Oh the cost to me, to you, to be certified Organic can be very impactful. Well, if I, or you, find a grant that pays for the certificate, let’s do it!

So if I am so skeptical of these kinds of certificates why did I host two farm visits and spend a day writing up a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management plan for the Farm? Because Salmon are important. They are important to so many tribes in the Pacific Northwest, Salmon are so very important to the ecosystem, the whole bio-region of Cascadia! I wanted to share a story about my people, it’s sort of our Origin story, it’s the creation story of the Columbia River, it highlights our world view, our way of life, our hope and trust. The Sinixt people, the Arrow Lakes Tribe have always occupied the territory that spans the Canadian/U.S. border in north Central Washington. The Arrow Lakes are important headwaters to the Columbia River.

This story is derived from a version of Marilyn James and you can read it on the Sinixtnation.org website. It’s Oral so hit Play!

PLACE RECORDING HERE PLEASE

As you heard, if Rain didn’t oddly fall in love with the grotesque, lying and cheating Coyote (Sin-ka-lip) the Arrow Lakes wouldn’t have formed and her blood wouldn’t have carved out the Columbia River’s path. I’m grateful that she found the strength (and anger) to hold Coyote to his promise though, without that conviction Salmon and so many other critters and plants wouldn’t be here with us today.

A salmon jumping up Kettle Falls- from sinixtnation.org

Unfortunately on July 5 1941 the Grand Coulee Damn was finished and the village that
members of my family are buried at was flooded. And the great, beautiful gift from Coyote, the Ilthkoyape or Falls of Boiling Baskets, “La Chaudiere” as the French fur traders called it, Kettle Falls was also flooded, drowned under Lake Roosevelt to this day. “Up until 1946, salmon and steelhead continued to appear at the base of the newly erected Grand Coulee Dam, trying to get upriver to spawn. After 1946, none was seen at the dam again. Our people have never been compensated for this tragic loss of our rich cultural heritage”- sinixtnation.org 

In the previous link you can read the creation story of the Kettle Falls. A town still stands there and my Grandmother and I have talked about taking a road trip to visit several locations and especially the cemetery at Kettle Falls. I think recently there has been more conversations around genetic memory. I’ve always felt that somewhere inside me were my ancestors calling me home, to the land. Much like Salmon have it in their DNA to return to their place of birth. I think there is this memory of the land in my genes, in all my cells, and I am becoming more comfortable and sure that this is truth, not romanticism, a reality inside me. Inside us all, and it’s just a matter of time.

Fishing at Kettle Falls

Sinixt people fishing from traditional platforms with baskets hung from long poles to catch jumping salmon in. – sinixtnation.org

This is why the Salmon Safe Certificate appealed to me, why I worked so hard on it, why I was more than happy to have the government pay for it. Salmon are important, the Sinixt, the bears, the land is starving now without the Salmon returning. On x̌ast sq̓it (Good Rain) Farm we do what we can to help, to spread the word, to be stewards of the land, to treat it with love, reverence and thanks, just as Farm Michelle’s ancestors have. But it makes me wonder if Coyote still loves Rain, the Sinixt hope that he’ll fulfill his promise and make everything right, but the Salmon no longer make their way back to Rain’s heart, bursting with love as proof that Coyote still thinks of her. Is our hope misplaced? Maybe, but shouldn’t we keep trying anyways? That’s another story for another day, Hummingbird has so much to teach us about perseverance and tenacity!

Lim̓lm̓t,

Thank you,

From your Farmer Michelle Week

 

MLK, Solidarity & Cooperative Economies

share_imageMartin Luther King Day stirred a deep pain within your farmer this year. It’s a mess of feelings, sad, angry, guilty, privileged and invisible, all at once. Here’s the complexity; though I am Native I’ve grown up as a White-Passing, Upper Middle Class person with all the inherent privileges that accompany those labels in our society. It’s an experience that can render my inherited identity invisible, making me uncomfortable to identify as native due to my physical looks and off reservation upbringing. Am I really a Native? Do I really deserve to identify as Native? Am I culturally appropriating my own culture or perpetuating stereotypes or signalling to other white people that it’s okay to wear or use Native fashion or practices? Did I make this whole thing up? Am I just grasping with some need to have a unique and exotic heritage? Am I using my heritage to gain leverage somehow? This is what assimilation looks like. I am the end goal of our Governments policies to eradicate the indigenous peoples of this continent. “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man,” U.S. Calvary captain Richard Henry Pratt said, who deemed the ongoing battles too dangerous or arduous to continue and opened the first boarding school for Native American children.

I’m grateful that Martin Luther King marched, spoke and fought for the fair, equal, equitable work and life rights of Black people in particular but for all people. In his time and to the benefit of us all, he was boldly forging a radical, multi-racial movement for economic justice.

“…Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shore, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it. Our children are still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people of an earlier culture into a few fragmented groups herded into impoverished reservations.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

His work isn’t over now that he’s gone. Dr. King didn’t do anything superhuman, it’s up to each of us to continue to walk up to the front lines and demand change. We can do that together, in peaceful, everyday, your neighbors wont even notice, ways through participating in Solidarity and Cooperative Economies.

Dr. King was a promoter of economic democracy, he was staunchly anti-capitalistic as is evident within his many speeches . In his most famous speech, I Have a Dream, he draws on many metaphors making explicit that America was (is) continuing to leave Black people behind both legally and economically and how essential economic freedom was to truly achieving the goals of the Civil Rights movement. “For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society,” he said, “a little change here and a little change there, but now I feel differently. You have to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values.” What is economic justice though? I strongly believe that a just economy is one that subverts capitalism, it involves businesses that are in solidarity with the cause, unionized or specifically sourcing and intentionally reaching out to the marginalized populations it may serve as workers and consumers. But more than that I strongly believe a just economy is best realized through the cooperative movement. Why unionize when you can be a worker-owner? A consumer-owner? I’m not alone, there are thousands around the world developing cooperative businesses seeking a more democratic economy.

At Good Rain Farm I seek to reconstruct and participate in the revolution of our communities food systems. Through supporting and purchasing as much of the Farms seed, seedling dirt, tools, starts through other BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)  businesses the Farm participates in the Solidarity Economy, funneling money to those who’ve been most hurt by our Government and Capitalist (Greed, Profit Driven) economy. Your farmer has personally been seeking out Native non-profits to volunteer with and potentially partner IMG_20190121_161150389with such as Wisdom of the Elders. Good Rain Farm also seeks to become a worker-owned co-op, having farmer-owners who have specific expertise in the many faucets of the farm currently and into the future. This set up allows those who are on the ground, literally covered in it, to make the best decisions on how to operate the business and support the community. You may have read or heard of many calls for Reparations, one great way to insure your dollars flow towards that is through intentionally supporting non-white local business. Good Rain Farm customers have a unique opportunity to support both a co-op and participate in the solidarity economy. And for that the Farm is grateful and proud to offer our local, sustainable food source to you! Your dollars at the Farmer’s Markets, at Restaurants that support local farmers and your CSA purchases all go towards supporting a new economy that can move us closer towards a Just Economy Martin Luther King may have envisioned.

In my effort to attract and retain co-farmers and to better work with the local tribes I am currently attending a PUGS (Portland Underground Grad School) class titled Confronting Racial Bias in Non-Profit and Grassroots Organizing”. We all are acclimatized to a White Dominant Culture, living and functioning within systems such as Institutions, the Government, our workplaces and even our households where the assumptions and cultural norms of these spaces (Our society as a whole) support the Implicit Bias’s (the unconscious stereotyping and decision making) that support or continue to prop up a male dominant white society. Learning to identify and confront my own ingrained habits is one way I can better serve my community at large. For the Farm to better tackle and support Food Sovereignty of this bio-region it’s farmer needs to be actively growing and learning about her privileges. The farm needs to be reaching out and involving these other stake holders in developing our action plans and educational efforts around farming and native edibles. Actively working on deconstructing (decolonizing) my assimilation/adoption of the norms that support what has become a clearly hurtful normalized set of standards in our country and world today is a personal action I have taken. No matter how we each choose to continue the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, it is in the very act of intentionally choosing to participate in carrying on his legacy that will bring lasting change to our society for generations to come. (Maybe come to this event with your farmer? Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty book reading at The Nightwood in Portland, Or? $15 Tickets)

All Links in this article I highly recommend you click and read them. I found them all very worthwhile.

Lim̓lm̓t, (Thank you)

Your farmer,

Michelle Week

 

 

 

X-mas Tree Bonfire!!

IMG_20181127_123559_440You are all welcomed to attend the 1st annual X-mas Tree Bonfire at the Farm! I am super excited to incinerate a few dried out and well loved Christmas trees with all of you. Let’s gather together during the Winter Solstice and celebrate the coming growing season!

We’ll be reusing and recycling those lovely smelling, decorations, trees, wreaths, or garlands, what have you. If you don’t have a tree or don’t typically celebrate the Winter Solstice Season with a tree just go ask your neighbors or snag a discarded tree from the street gutter. Because that tree is going to become some excellent fertilizer for our farm!

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Tree Ash is a great resource for the farm. As your farmer and the steward of this little chunk of land I struggle deeply with every day choices. I try to make the best ones, and when it comes to soil preparation and amending it’s a hard bit of truth that I struggle to swallow. Soil is so complex and it’s literally the land we stand on and I want to treat it with deep admiration, thanks and respect. The Pacific Northwest has high clay, high acid soil. It defines our region. This last season I watched and experienced the effects of our soil health on our plants. Many of the plants were dwarfed, a common indication of poor soil health, mainly a lack of the big three N-P-K or Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.

This year I will be amending, because the Farm simply can’t feed us all nutritious foods if the soil can’t deliver the required nutrients to those plants to grow healthy, lush lives. I’m not 100% comfortable with this decision. It’s not natural to truck in a bunch of amendments and dump it on one concentrated place- then again the way the first European Pioneers farmed didn’t exactly set us up for long term success. Many of these amendments are mined then trucked and flown from all over the world, that carbon foot print isn’t too kind and feels counter intuitive to sustainable farming. Unfortunately the truly natural way to fix these soil deficiencies is through time (we gatta eat now, I need to pay my rent now), many years of cover cropping (Clover, oat and buckwheat are on the fields currently!),  and the returning to the earth of animal bodies and humanure. Yup, your poop is a much needed component in close looping the farms needs, every time we drive the food away from the farm we are escorting many nutrients away from that particular parcel of land and it takes decades for those nutrients to make their way back.

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Above is a soil test of one of the farm fields.

Here’s my compromise, because we all know life is full of compromises. I will adhere to all OMRI/Organic certs when choosing and applying these amendments and I pledge to always work towards supplementing and reducing even eliminating a few of these amendments. Burning up a bunch of Christmas trees is one such supplement! What could be more fun anyways?  The ash from the bonfire will be scattered across the fields, it contains high amounts of Potassium (N) and Phosphorous (K) and lots of micro-nutrients such as Zinc, Iron and Calcium. N is necessary for flowering and fruiting production of a plant, K increases the plants resistance to disease and enhances root growth. The application of our burn pile wood ash is similar to Agricultural Lime with about half the potency. Ag Lime and Wood Ash are very alkaline which counteracts or helps neutralize the high acidity found naturally in our clay soils allowing us to find a balance. For mixed vegetable production we are shooting for ‘7’. Check out the scale below! PH SCALEThere is some hope that with time, the farm can raise the PH level high enough that we can maintain it through more sustainable practices such as using wood ash and fish shells instead of trucking in stone, mineral or manufactured lime. Please join me in the merriment and the soil science experiment! Together as a community we’ll learn, grow and eat together!

See you at the Bonfire!

Farmer Michelle! & Farm Family!