Tag Archives: Sustainability

Everyone is Needed

We have reached the day before the last day of roofing and gutting the parsonage.  The day began at thirty-eight degrees with the sun shining and the wind still.

I think we often hear of great work volunteers.  They come and work hard to better the lives of others.  They build, design, remove, paint, console, and a multitude of other tasks that change landscapes.  However, they could do their work without the money the rest of us are willing to contribute.  Folk like to say the church isn’t about money, and in a way, they are right, but in our context today, we all know money is at the crux of alleviating hurt.  The church cannot be all it might be if money is not given to feed, house, and care for the poor and oppressed—the reality is, volunteers would be standing outside the parsonage at this very minute, twiddling their thumbs, if it were not for those who have given money to better world, mission, and community.

It would be wrong to confuse those who give money and those who volunteer physical time though.  One isn’t better than another, but they are different, and mission needs both.  When done in combination, monetary giving and volunteer time, huge change occurs.  On building projects, a rule of thumb is the cost of materials equals the cast of labor.  Which means on remodels like the parsonage (and the labor on remodels is higher than on new construction), the money given by those of us who do not have the chance or cannot volunteer, is double by our sisters and brothers who can and do volunteer!

As today moves towards the noon hour, money and labor is hard at work.  The roof is quickly moving towards completion, the installation of soffits have begun, the grounds are being mowed and cleared, gutting the inside of the building continues, and painting of the Friendship house is finishing up!  The week has been an experience and the Mission campus is changing by the minute!

Community by way of Wind and Roof

September 5, 2010

The Disciples Volunteering tool trailer pulled in yesterday around 7am.  Folks unloaded and then gathered for breakfast.  When folk gather and begin the day together around a meal, it matters.  It matters in many ways, but for Disciples, when paid close attention, meals bring people together in deep community.  More than, “what are we doing today?” or “when will materials arrive?,” the meal leads folks to remembering the day is much more than tearing off a roof.  There is something generational about it, something about tying this community to that past community who first built the parsonage—future retreat house, something about tying this community to tomorrows community who will reroof again in twenty years, and something about tying this community that community of our children’s children when we are known as that “cloud of witnesses.”  Somewhere in that moment of breakfast, there is an indwelling of Creator which enriches and emboldens and leads folks up the basement steps to the sun, the roof, and the wind.

And the Wind had a bit to say yesterday.  By noon, a steady 15mph wind had gathered itself and blew down off the east slopes of the Cascade Range, through the trees, and over the roof.  About the time anyone got comfortable with dust in their eyes and the taste of 30 year-old shingles in their mouth, the wind would nudge the shoulder with a thirty-mile-per-hour gust and say, “remember, now, your ten or twelve feet off the ground and those little pebbles from yesterdays roofing makes it easy slide down a slope…I should know, I just slide off mountain slopes before I met you…”

So, folk listened to the wind and worked.  With roofing shovels, scaffolding, and gloves, roofing which had felt the winds nudge for over twenty-five years slide down one by eight sheathing cut from old growth trees some fifty-five years ago.  Some went directly into the dumpster and far too many to the outside—which meant roofing was handled a second time before it made it to the dumpster.  While folk worked on the roof, others were in the kitchen creating lunch and then supper.  Others who were not roof people worked and cleaned the Friendship house.  Together fourteen people transformed the landscape of the Mission.  And their muscles, as the sun settled down over the Cascades from which the wind came, reminded them of their dance with wind and roof.

Hay Bales for the Homeless

August 1, 2010

Tomorrow evening we are baling hay.  Of course, once the hay is baled someone must pick it up out of the field and stack it.  Normally we have someone come to the farm with a bale wagon and mechanically pick up and stack each bale.  Great on our backs, but it does cost us money.

Now, here is our incredible offer to you!  If we can get a group of folks to the farm Tuesday evening to help load bales out of the field and stack them, then we will donate 75 cents to Noah’s Ark for every bale stacked!  (Noah’s Ark is the only homeless shelter in the entire lower valley.  Donations are hard to come by these days and it is important to make sure they are around come winter when the temperatures are in the single digits!)  That means other than the cost of tractor time, all the money we normally pay someone to ease the strain on our backs will go to the homeless of the lower valley!

So, here’s the deal.  We will begin at 6pm Tuesday evening loading bales.  Eat well before you come and bring some fruit, drink, desert, etc.  We’ll then load bales.  After we’re all done we’ll sit in the cool evening breeze, admire our work, congratulate one another on making a donation possible, have some desert and watch the sun set!

We need to make sure we have enough people to make this a go.  Email me at dave@justlivingfarm.org and let me know you are coming.  If enough folks email by 7pm Monday evening we’re on for Tuesday evening.  If not, we will give it another try with the next cutting.  In either case, I will let everyone who responds know what is going on with a Tuesday morning email.

I hope you can make it!

A History of Willows

July 2, 2010

Years ago folks came to the Farm from Pacific Grove, California.  We spent time with them at another farm that had a number of different types of willows.  We trimmed branches, brought them back to the Farm, and placed them in five-gallon buckets of water.  Most of the willows on the Farm are from that day.  Now, each year we take a moment and trim our own willows, place them in a bucket and then transplant them once their roots have developed and the weather is good for transplanting.  It doesn’t take much time and we figure it must help in our carbon footprint!

Are you interested in estimating your carbon footprint?  Try The Nature Conservancy’s footprint calculator at http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator/?gclid=CMyMh8SpzaICFQxubAodDhxkwQ.

© David B. Bell 2010

Summer Fun Program Begins!

The Summer Fun Program started yesterday.  Many parents and grandparent were surprised when they showed up.  Surprised because we had to let them know that as of this morning we could not provide transportation during summer for their children should they need it.  As one might suspect there were many questions.  Like many folk who have a long history with the Mission, most never really grasped that when the denomination ended (Disciples Mission Fund) funding to the Mission in 2007, sooner or later something like this was bound to happen.  The day was hard because it meant some children who have come to the Mission during the summer, all of their young life, would not be able to come this year.  But then this is the reality for youth, families, communities, and structural entities like the Mission who are of poverty.

Just the same, twenty-five children arrived and the day went great!  With food, games, crafts, and staff and children remembering one another, everyone settled in for another summer.  Now we begin living into the creative time that can only arise out of this soil, these people, and the visitors who make this home during the summer.

© David B. Bell 2010

Omen of a Mountains Kippah

May 11, 2010

No clouds envelop Pahto this morning.  The Cascade Range, from Toppenish Ridge in the south to beyond Ahtanum in the north, is clear with white peaks and ridges against a blue sky.  One long and drawn out cloud floats between the farm and the range.  Pahto has a cap of a cloud hovering above it—a mountains Kippah, promising more than can be seen.

How long will we have clear skies and should the first cutting of alfalfa begin today?  We need at least ten days of good clear weather between cutting and baling and the mountains Kippah seems a good omen.  That and online weather forecasts keep the chance of rain low during the next ten days.  The alfalfa could grow longer and we could wait for a better forecast, but weeds are on the far end of their bloom.  Since we don’t use herbicides in the hay fields, we try to cut at the end of bloom and before seeds ripen, with the hope weed seeds lessen with each cutting.  Since weed going to seed and alfalfa reaching its full tonnage seldom coincide in the spring, we’re thinking of cutting in favor of fewer seeds than greater tonnage.

Cutting depends on the tractor and swather though.  With both pieces of equipment being new to us this season, I don’t know exactly what to expect other than the unexpected.  Air and hydraulic filters were replaced in the JD 4230 tractor yesterday.  Both the tractor and swather were greased and oiled.  The hydraulic reservoirs on each need filling this morning.

Sun, blue sky, and a Kippah to remind there is much good, let’s see where that takes us today.

© David B. Bell 2010

There is more than Plant Life in a Greenhouse!

May 10, 2010

Pots of different sizes hung from overhead rails.  Blooming plants cascaded over their sides.  No hardboard ceiling here, no drop lighting frames and plastic diffusers either, rather green leafy tendrils with yellow flowers, red flowers, pink flowers, and white flowers fill overhead space.  Belinda and I entered the Wapato High School greenhouse and found in this broad, but confined landscape, students busy preparing for a full day of customers who would look and touch and pick through hundreds of plants they had nurtured and grown from seed over the course of the last semester.

A greenhouse landscape is like no other.  Over the years we have been blessed to spend time in many in the lower Yakima valley.  From White Swan High School to the RicOrganic Co-Op, each greenhouse is a little different.  They speak their own dialect and tell their own story.  Some are landscapes of plants spread across tables while other has plants growing directly out of the soil under foot.  Some are full of flowers and bushes and trees while others are focused on one singular type of plant.  Some are in backyards where one or two people are the only to enter the space while others are large with people coming, going, and interacting with plants day in and day out.  The latter is the landscape of the Wapato greenhouse.  But more.

We arrived early in the day.  When we entered young women and men met us.  Some were watering, others building an inventory of boxes, others still were moving plants around, all were full of energy telling us part of their greenhouse story in word and deed.  Those stacking boxes ask if we would like a box to put the plants in, for surely we must want to buy a dozen or better!  We hardly had found and placed a few plants in our first box when women with cameras stopped and asked if they could take our picture.  We said yes, but with a caveat.  We would like to take their picture as well!  The surprise on their faces said few folk ask if they might take their picture during the annual plant sale.  After a little coaxing, some laughter, a blush here and there, we all stood together and took photos of one another!

More years than not the annual plant sales at the local high schools are a lifesaver.  Unlike our neighbors at RicOrganics we too often have not started our garden seedlings when we should have.  Thanks to wonderful, healthy, agriculture programs—such as that at Wapato H.S.—we have the good fortune to attain vegetable and flower seedlings while knowing our food is tied to the wellbeing of community because teachers have helped our youth become more intricately tied the betterment of our communities soil, water, air, and plants.

The landscape of high school greenhouses really are like no other.  Greenhouses are a “web” place, a place where all that is within their walls enter into a unique relationship.  Teachers and youth, plant and human, water and air, neighbors and students, cannot be within this space and not be affected by the other.  In many ways the wellbeing of one is the wellbeing of all.  And that sense of wellbeing beyond the greenhouse structure as well.  For each plant that leaves its world of birth and is given home in another place reminds the transplanter, each time they observe a flower or eat a tomato, of the day the met a house full of young folk caring for plant, place, and community.

© David B. Bell 2010