GROWTH + CHANGE

we just wrapped up an incredible summer of programs on the farm. between having women in high school spend the bulk of the summer with us at spiral, studying the intersection of social and environmental justice, and having adults stay for shorter, skill-based preservation workshops, and doing permaculture design work for clients, it's been rich, intense, joyful, and full.

we wanted to put up a post to let our community know about a shift coming for Dig In Farm. we have so loved running programs on our site in Shutesbury, and have cherished these last two years as an 'incubator' time to try out new programs, projects, and plantings. we have been so fortunate to have family, friends, donors, collaborators, students, mentors, teachers and conspirators, all come together to make that happen. we couldn't have done what we have done in the last two years without all of your support. thank you! we are humbled and honored to have you at our backs. 

over the last two years, we have grown in size and scope of project. we have connected with more people, and begun to dream big dreams about what kinds of projects we want to take on in the future. we have so much excitement and sense of possibility about a number of different land-based projects, that we decided we need to give ourselves a break from running programs in order to set the bigger vision.

to make space to develop a larger project plan that combines education, social and environmental justice, permaculture, youth, land-based skills, and community, we have put together an advisory council of friends, students, collaborators, and mentors. this incredible team is committed to visioning together for the next couple years to develop a long-term plan to help flesh out the next project. our culture often celebrates fast, quick thinking, and we want to push back against that, to give the full time + space to gestate our next project iteration into life. we are excited to do this work together and see what emerges. we are all smarter together than any of us alone. our advisory council is diverse by design; we want as many viewpoints as possible to help hone the vision together so that we can best serve our community.

in this visioning time, Juna will be living and teaching at Quail Springs Permaculture in California where she will be program coordinating. Jacob + Grace will be primarily living in Burlington, VT, returning often to the Shutesbury farm site to tend, prune, harvest, and share. (Yay for low-maintenance perennial crops, and for a gorgeous, multi-purpose classroom that we will also stay in when there!) We plan to continue to use + share the site we have developed with plantings, gardens, and a yurt classroom in Shutesbury as one of our teaching sites.

In Vermont, Grace will be serving as Executive Director for a progressive synagogue, helping to foster an inclusive, warm, alive spiritual community. Jacob will continue to do permaculture design work for clients, play with and plant nut and fruit trees everywhere, as well as serving as the primary parent at home with Amos.

we wanted to share our transition with our wider community to update you, and also to invite your thoughts, visions, and feedback for us. thank you for supporting us this far, and we can't wait to share with you what is coming next!

 

SPIRAL 2016

we are filled up with gratitude for the incredible cohort who gathered to dive deeply into social and environmental justice, farming, feminism, radical community building, feasting, play, joyful living, and truth- talking this summer. it's hard to sum up the project neatly-- easier to let some pictures do the talking.

we would like to thank all our collaborators, supporters, and friends who helped make spiral come alive. it truly takes a village to hold a project like this, and we thank you for showing up in all the ways you do-- as teachers, donors, mentors, conspirators, farmers, allies, herbalists, and supporters of all kinds. we are humbled and beyond grateful.

people power confronts shutesbury's best crop: rocks

people power confronts shutesbury's best crop: rocks

field guides, all day every day as part of our sit-spot daily practice

field guides, all day every day as part of our sit-spot daily practice

making paper as part of a mending patriotism project exploring the politics of daily materials

making paper as part of a mending patriotism project exploring the politics of daily materials

dye test fabric as part of a fibers + global trade class

dye test fabric as part of a fibers + global trade class

presenting designs for a 170 acre property

presenting designs for a 170 acre property

medicine wheel/ natural cycle

medicine wheel/ natural cycle

visiting rice paddies, learning about traditional miso-making

visiting rice paddies, learning about traditional miso-making

guest teacher prof. sommers (who builds bridges between the academic and practitioner spheres) teaching us about archival documents, particularly old cookbooks, diaries, and other amazing primary sources from the pioneer valley that connected us to the land's history as seen through the lens "women's work."

guest teacher prof. sommers (who builds bridges between the academic and practitioner spheres) teaching us about archival documents, particularly old cookbooks, diaries, and other amazing primary sources from the pioneer valley that connected us to the land's history as seen through the lens "women's work."

all. the. waterfalls.

all. the. waterfalls.

spiral, 2015!

spiral whole crew

“This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have learned so much here and have made so many beautiful and meaningful connections with people from all over!” - Siena, 15

and just like that, the inaugural summer of spiral has come to an end! we had fifteen high school and college students, four recently graduated college students, one cook, and three directors living here at Dig In for a whole month. and what an unbelievable month it was.

first of all, each of our the fantastic participants completed a full Permaculture Design Certificate, presenting amazing master plans for the farm at the end of the month. we were blown away by their whole-systems thinking. they are now ready to enter the permaculture world as designers, applying the ethics of earth care, people care, and fair share to all their studies and projects.

we also took a number of incredible field trips around the area to learn from other teachers and leaders. we spent time with Jonathan at Food Forest Farm in Holyoke, Leila at Brookfield Farm in Amherst, Kate at Bug Hill Farm in Ashfield, Jono and Kemper at Hickory Gardens in Leverett, Christian at South River Miso in Conway, Jade at Milk and Honey Herbs in Shutesbury, Jill at Winterberry Farm in Colrain, Lilly at UMass Permaculture, as well as guest speaker Evelyn from Broadfork Permaculture. we're so grateful for all the teaching they shared with us this month.

what blew us away more than any of the particular classes or field trips was the incredible group of people who came together this summer. they were consistently thoughtful, hard working, positive, connecting, and visionary. we feel so hopeful about the future knowing these young people.

we are immensely grateful for all the support we had to launch spiral this year, as well as for the students and parents who took a leap of faith in coming to a new program. we are filled up with joy and gratitude and are already scheming for summer of 2016!

spiral, thus far!

weeding in dill

weeding in dill

pounding pigment for dye tests

pounding pigment for dye tests

creating new terraces

creating new terraces

mending and stitching on the quilt for mending patriotism

mending and stitching on the quilt for mending patriotism

pea tending love

pea tending love

learning to carve

learning to carve

outdoor classroom

outdoor classroom

clearing some field edge

clearing some field edge

prepping veggies for fermenting

prepping veggies for fermenting

bowdrilling for fire

bowdrilling for fire

living and exploring "women's work"

spiral print

Annie Dillard wrote that "how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." In an effort to examine the normally unexamined, today I tried to notice all the quotidian work I do in order to see what kind of patterns pulse beneath.

 I got up at six, and after groaning at the thermometer, scrolling through instragram (being honest), and making the bed, I shared a cup of coffee with Jacob (well again, to be honest-- Jacob drank something wholesome like nettle or dandelion root, proving yet again his body is a temple and mine is a caffeine tank). By seven he was out the door for his long commute to his high school. I debated going out to do the chicken chores, but since the thermometer read an unbelievable -17, I decided to work instead on finishing up a quilt for a friend’s new baby. This sweet new person came into the world just a few weeks ago, and her mama labored to birth her for three whole days. We both really like this family—they are new in our lives, but have the spark of friends that could be dear and long-lasting. I wanted to make something homemade and useful, and figured something cozy, warm, and bright would be good for starting a family in the dead of winter. For an hour and a half I cut, ironed, and stitched a wild little blanket for a tiny person.

By eight thirty I wanted to make sure the chickens had water and food, so I bundled up and journeyed out to the coop. I cracked the frozen door open and was greeted by our two roosters crowing. I had been worried about them last night in the frigid dark, but we left them a light on in the coop to ease the chill. Still, my fears were confirmed when I inspected our rooster’s comb and noticed a few little black spots, signs his comb was hit with frost bite. I felt terrible, racked with guilt for not keeping them all warmer. I ran inside, read up on treating frostbite online (it’s like a WebMD overdose, but adding the search term ‘chicken’, and after learning the trick was not letting them get gangrene(!), armed myself with a little cup of antibiotic resistant ointment. Goo in one hand, rooster in the other, I tried to dress his little chicken wounds and smear a protective coating over his comb to prevent further infection. Needless to say, he didn’t love it.

I began to think that giving the chickens some hay instead of the woodchips we normally fill the coop with (chips are free; hay costs money) could help keep them a little more insulated and prevent further frostbite. I quickly threw in a load of laundry that had gotten chicken poo all over them, made a grocery list, and drove the s-curves down out of our hill town into town twenty minutes away. There I deposited farm checks at the bank (thankfully) and went to the grocery store, loading up on food for our home while in town. (We have been eating a lot of rice, beans, and sweet potatoes lately—we’re pretty wholly ready for early spring crops to return.) I swung through the farmer’s supply store, picking up more feed for the birds as well as a bale of hay. We chatted briefly about maple, and when the season would start, or if it just wouldn’t this year.

I arrived home and dumped the grain into the shed, then spread hay out for the birds. After collecting ten eggs, I thanked the birds, and checked to make sure their water hadn’t frozen. (We bought a heated waterer that had a sparky scare, was rebuilt twice, and sometimes still freezes on the top, so it’s always worth checking.) I refilled laundry.

After grabbing some quick food to put in my face, I had a phone interview with an applicant for our Spiral summer program. We talked about her passions and work teaching younger kids about farming and social justice, about living in community and how to resolve conflict. She told me she plans to start an alternative school when she gets out of college and wants to use permaculture design to get there. We talked about Mending Patriotism, the month long Permaculture Design Course, and how we are raising money to make the program truly accessible to young women from all backgrounds. Through our conversation my heart swelled with inspiration and I felt grateful for having put in (and continuing to put in) the less sexy work—accounting, marketing, outreach, fundraising—needed to make the engine of Spiral go.

After our conversation, I received several emails from a helpful friend putting me in touch with schools with students for the summer program. I wrote back and forth with some of these folks: intro emails, chatty emails, professional emails. I worked on a script I have been writing for a fundraising campaign. I told our story, again and again, each time in a new way.

While writing to people I have never met in the flesh, building on stories and shared friendships, I was suddenly struck by how every piece of my work today has felt deeply, thoroughly "women's work". So much of my day had been about keeping animals, people, and spaces warm and fed. Of doing work that will need to be done again and again—buying and making food that will get eaten, cleaning a coop that will be filthy by tomorrow, washing clothes that will again get soiled, and building relationships that take time and energy.

I began to realize so much of what I think of as traditionally “women’s work” is just this: oikos-- cyclical tending. Oikos feeds the engine of a business, or farm, or family. Jacob and I definitely share this kind of work—it certainly doesn’t fall only to me. He washes dishes, cooks meals, does laundry and shovels muck (and so much more snow) like I do. But at its core, something deeply feminine underlies my work.

At its core, all the work I do it about relationship. About tending to relationships, of friends, community (both personal and professional), animals, family, place. Whether I am working as a farmer, a teacher, a friend, or a wife, what I care about is strengthening the fibers of our web of relationships. I love Joanna Macy’s idea of ‘the work that reconnects.’ I want to claim traditionally coded ‘women’s’ work' as simply ‘work that reconnects’—ancient, necessary, powerful, cyclical, revolutionary, quotidian work, no matter who does it, of whatever gender expression-- work that keeps us warm, nourished, and connected. In building relationships and tending them well, we are strong enough together to do what we cannot alone, safe and warm enough to act with boldness.

announcing... Spiral!

spiral logo.png

it's a new year & a huge new project here at Dig In Farm! we are THRILLED (beyond thrilled! ecstatic) to announce the launch of Spiral, a residential summer permaculture design course for women in high school and during their gap years!

we have been working tirelessly for months (years!) to vision, conceptualize, design, and launch this project, and we are so, so excited we can hardly stand it. here's the equation:  intensive farming experience + radical justice education + permaculture design course + community living + young women leaders + incredible mentors + all the delicious food + outdoor living = one amazing summer and our small contribution to world-wide [agri]cultural revolution.

a few key stats about the Spiral experience: it's one month (june-july); residential on our small farm in western mass; a permaculture design course; for women ages 15-18; sliding scale. social justice, resilient farming, deep community, and abundant joy form the core principles of the program.

poke around on our site! contact us with questions, and spread the word to any women in high school you might know who will be into this.

AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!