I guess I’ll start with a disclaimer. It’s been two weeks since I arrived here at Kahumana Farm, and this is my first post… I made the decision to leave my mac book at home, so I won’t have a way to post unless I use my phone or borrow someone’s computer. Sorry in advance for tumblr neglect. Anyway. I don’t even know where to start to recap everything that’s been happening over the last fourteen days. I have nothing but time in this place… and the time is somehow simultaneously slower and faster here. I’ve been writing everyday, which helps me analyze my life on the farm.
I guess I’ll start with the basics.
I have my own room in the wwoofer house. It’s kind of rustic, but comfortable compared to other places I’ve stayed when travelling. I share a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and a ping pong table with 7 other wwoofers. 3 more live next door. Christian, the farm manager, and Robert, the cafe manager, also live on the farm, as do a handful of other workers. The people I live with are mostly 20-somethings from the mainland, some of whom are wwoofing to transition into full time Hawaii life. A few of them have cars and make regular trips into town, aka Honolulu, on the weekends. Oahu is a strange place. The farm itself is beautiful, and there are all sorts of nature things happening that blow my mind everyday. On the other hand, we’re surrounded by poverty. Our farm is in Waianae, a town that is located on the dry side of the island. The soil is rich, but nothing grows without irrigation here. There are homeless tent ‘cities’ everywhere, and top secret military bases too. When I tell people from town that I’m going to Waianae, they look at me funny… It’s known for being sketchy, but I really like it. I’ve already mastered the public transportation, and I’ve started recognizing regulars on the bus. Waianae definitely isn’t a tourist spot, even though it’s less than two miles to the most incredible beaches I’ve seen.
My little tribe is an interesting collection of creative farmer restaurant people. Everyone is here for different reasons, and it’s really interesting to catch little pieces of their stories. It seems like most of us are in moments of transition, unsure of the next step, but happy to be where we are right now. We’be bonded about mosquito bites, bonfires, good food, and beach runs. I’m one of only three girls, but I’m used to hanging with more guys than girls, so it works out. We are getting another wwoofer tomorrow - Todd from Texas.
The book selection in the wwoof house is killer. Travellers’ libraries are always the best. I’m reading everything I touch, which is time-consuming and necessary.
The farmwork is hard, but I can feel my body adjusting to it with each passing day. I split my 30 hours between the farm and the cafe, just about 50/50. I prefer the farm because I learn so much… But in the cafe I’m teaching others. I’ve found that I do best with the delicate, time-consuming tasks such as planting really tiny seeds, weeding the planters in the greenhouse, etc. I love harvesting root vegetables and lettuces. I still hate shoveling, whether it’s soil, compost, or mulch. Hopefully my mind will change to match the adjustment of my body.
This experience feels more like an experiment the more I move through it, and I’m looking forward to what the remainder of my time here has to offer. I’ve already learned so much about the island, the farm, the people, and myself.
“If it feels wrong, don’t do it … If it feels easy, don’t do it. Don’t let the world spoil you.” -a televised punch in the gut.
I just finished watching an episode of the walking dead at a friend’s house in trenton. My ride home was treacherous. I took the scenic route. Not the downtown one that features office complexes, parking regulations and manicured grassy dividers. Mine was potholes and corner stores, cramped lanes and shitty reception. The gps on my phone, temperamental at best, led my ailing car down poorly-lit (and seemingly nameless) streets. I was lost for a dozen blocks, but when I finally got my bearings, the ride home was foggy and considerably more… chill.
Once on familiar roads, I let my mind drift towards my upcoming trip. I’ll be staying in a house that I have never seen with people I have never met on an island that I have never been to. It’s a huge, poorly planned adventure that involves hard, honest work without the benefit of financial profit. I’m leaving family and friends that I just came back home to. Hurricane Sandy devastated some of my neighbors in the very state I was born in.
But it doesn’t feel wrong.
It certainly doesn’t feel easy, either.
I’m taking this self-imposed un-scenic route, not because it is the one that makes my mother cringe and my father look at me funny. I’m choosing this path because I have this incessant voice in my head saying it is good for me. I don’t want to let the world spoil me anymore than it already has. I acknowledge that I am very lucky with everything I have. That being said, my favorite memories involve a rapid pulse and an aching heart. I’m ready for more of that.
So I’m borrowing supplies from friends and buying better hiking socks. I’m re-learning how to go without make-up or a straightening iron. I’m still listening to my instincts. I’ve gotten this far, my money is on me.
Here’s to doing it the hard way.
Some of you know that I’ve been applying to work on organic farms for the past 5 months through Worldwide Opportunies on Organic Farms - Hawaii. Two days ago, I was offered an unpaid position at Kahumana Organic Farm and Cafe on the island of Oahu. While there, I will be helping out on their biodynamic farm and working in their farm-to-table cafe. The cafe also functions to teach homeless people (mostly women) lifeskills they need to transition into functional members of society. For those of you who know me well, you can see that this opportunity perfectly matches my passion for hospitality. I just need a little help from family (and maybe friends) to gather resources to leave so soon. My stay at Kahumana starts in a little over 2 weeks. I’ll be there, working as an unpaid intern for 2 months. It’s awkward to ask for help, especially when a lot people nearby are still dealing with Sandy’s destruction. 20% of money raised here will go straight to the Red Cross for hurricane relief. Thank you.
The whole living in my dad’s basement thing feels like regression… but it makes me want to go back to school and finish my degree. Where did that come from?
Earlier today, I took my sister grocery shopping to pick up tahini for the hummus I’m bringing to Lori’s Halloween party tomorrow night. Because we only had one item on the list, and because we had a lot of time to kill, we were able to leisurely stroll down the aisles at Shoprite. Food is the one thing I am most passionate about, and it felt good to share that with Kate. We started off in the produce section, which is my favorite part of any super market. We spent about half an hour inspecting both familiar and unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, while talking about the differences between organic and conventional growing methods. With the fervent curiosity only a nine-year-old can express, my sister examined horseradish, parsnips, and tomatillos.
As we continued on our quest for tahini, I decided that we would go through all of the aisles in the same manner. Unsurprisingly, Kate picked up on reading labels very quickly. I’ve been craving applesauce nonstop lately… something about fall weather screams red apple and cinnamon. Together, we compared Mott’s to an organic version from Vermont. She struggled to pronounce high fructose corn syrup and asorbic acid, and I struggled to explain what those ingredients were. So we agreed that we should only purchase items that were made out of whole foods that we could pronounce. This empowered her to grab items off shelves and compare labels, so that she could ultimately decide what to put in our basket.
We had the most difficult time with cookies. Kate awkwardly read the list of ingredients for Shoprite’s store made chocolate chip cookies. She could have been reciting chemical compounds in a foreign language. Not pretty. She opted for organic French vanilla ice cream instead.
An hour and a half later, we came home with two bags of whole and minimally processed foods that she is genuinely excited about. She helped me make chipotle pumpkin and rosemary pumpkin hummus. I taught her how to massage a lemon before you juice it. She taught me how it’s best to let the ice cream melt a little before you eat it.
Food education is such a crucial topic, yet it is so neglected in our culture. Kids need to know what fruits and vegetables are - this knowledge is essential to the rest of their lives. Eating a plant-based, whole foods diet is the only way to ensure good health. As Hippocrates said, ”let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Proper nutrition lessens the chance of developing obesity, heart disease, depression, and cancer… BUT IT ISN’T TAUGHT PROPERLY IN SCHOOLS. Parents and educators spend so much time, money, and energy teaching children not to smoke or drink or do drugs… but they feed them chicken nuggets for lunch and call pizza a vegetable.
I try not to get all preachy… but this topic is so near to my heart. I love feeding the people I love. I think it has something to do with growing up around the hospitality industry. I can’t help but want to take care of everyone around me. I’d continue… but it’s late, I’m tired… and I’m teaching a class for the managers in training tomorrow. Night all.