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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Kern Family Farm, North Fork, California, USA

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Kern Family Farm, North Fork, California, USA
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Registered: December 2012
City/Town/Province: Oakland
Posts: 1
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Together, we kneel over the bright summer squashes peering out from under their shield of dark green leaves. Our hands move over the softened soil, searching for our enemies. Weeds are pulled. Our neat line shifts over to the next field, and the work continues.




Shift right.

Each day, I awake before the earth stirs. The slivered moon is still visible; the birds have yet to awaken. The 5am stillness accompanies me in my routine as I feed and milk twenty rambunctious goats before scurrying towards the center field of the Kern Family Farm. Here, the head farmer reminds us of our goals. Even with the help of fifteen wwoofers, the list of tasks seems unachievable.
Our responsibilities are high for a small family farm, as the local families we feed have few options for fresh, organic vegetables. Our modest12'x12' Kern Grocery Store is a rare sight for North Fork, California, dotted with commercial markets and liquor stores.
Each day, we share views on how bring our visions of environmental justice to life. Our debates, and the ones before us in this field, echo through the twenty acres of hilly, cultivated land dotted with outcroppings of lichen-covered boulders. They attach themselves to the blue oaks and madrone hovering above our sweat-matted heads, to the fallen apple that will soon become a feast for a family of railroad worms and then disintegrate into the earth. Our debates, our agreements, our animated discoveries – they define each day I spend here. I grow; I change. My eyes open to a new way of life, to a new way of thought.
I am no longer concerned about the oil in my hair or the soil beneath my bitten fingernails. I am proud of the callused soles of my feet; I flaunt my worn, dirt-stained jeans like a medal, a badge of courage.
The stains on my jeans become darker, each representing a struggle. Like a bewildered young soldier, I wander within the tall maze of tomato vines, their fruit ripe with the juices of life. I question how my two worlds can merge. I am going to be leaving the Kern Family Farm, where I have been volunteeering as a “wwoofer” for a month, and return home to the gritty streets of Oakland.
Momentarily, my mental journey comes to an end: I find balance.
The museums, the streets, the life of my city are as beautiful as the early mornings of raw physical labor and the simple joys of a hard-earned dinner. I can return with a newfound appreciation of my home. Yet the farm remains at the forefront of my mind. As the youngest farmer in the Kern Family Farm’s history, I now share my passion for environmental respect and food justice with my city peers. I remember the source of our vegetables, of our need to restore vitality to our ecosystem. Even in Oakland I can work for environmental care, for an appreciation of our earth and its fruits. The flavors of my experiences mix to create an intricate soup of perspectives and visions. I become both the city and the farm.
Date: December 15, 2012 Views: 6324 File size: 16.3kb, 150.5kb : 960 x 540
Hours Volunteered: 1500
Volunteers: 15
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 & 20 to 28
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 2.02
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