The morning was warm and bright sunshine brought freckles to my cheeks as I sunk my pitchfork into the steaming mound. Dirt flew as others around me hurled shovelfuls of compost into the trailer below us. Seven of us bent into our work and with each shovelful, the air turned to a fine mist of brown earth, straw, and colorful pieces of plastic. Our arms and faces were covered in glistening dust. Girls don't sweat, we glisten. And with our glistening muscles, plus some really strong guys, we managed to hurl and move over a ton of compost today. I feel like a garden warrior.
A sore garden warrior.
We were back at the Pauma Valley IRC farm today - this time as a club. Joe and I have worked on the farm with fellow volunteers a couple times and it's magical to see the changes in less than a year. The 20 acres that, only months ago, were overgrown with weeds and thistles and from which we yanked hundreds of feet of drip tape are now green with foreign agriculture. Refugees in bright colored skirts sing softly to themselves as they tend to harvests that didn't exist earlier this year. There's a massive compost bin in the far field...that we built. And today we hauled contaminated compost out of the farm and raised the roof on a 24-foot wash-station for the refugees to clean their harvested veggies and hands. It's hard, strenuous, beautiful work. The kind of work you can look around and see the difference. The hums of the Somali and Burmese refugees floated along the breeze and a crow hopped noisily along the weedy path. My blood and sweat is literally invested in this farm, and while I've only been able to work there a few times, I feel like it's something I'm intimately connected to. I love being there, surrounded by tall mountains, dried brush, green crops and accented song. I love waving to new friends and working alongside them as we struggle in the heat. It's hard, but like most difficult things, it's rewarding and humbling.
I really hope we can get back there sooner than later.