I knew only two things upon entering my second co-op: I wanted to focus on creating art, and I wanted to be somewhere unknown to me. I hadn’t had the time, energy, nor focus to actively pursue my own creative development during academic quarters, so I petitioned to do an independent co-op where I dedicated my time and energy towards this passion of mine. Additionally, I wanted to explore not only my creative boundaries but also geographical boundaries. I decided to head out to the west coast and live with my sister in Oakland, California. I had my passion, my materials, and my spatial foundation set.
Alongside my advisor, Sharon Dorsey of Open Door Studio in Columbus, Ohio (an art studio for adults with disabilities to freely and safely create art), I’ve been working on building a solid art portfolio. From researching artists that I like, and how they are “successful” artists to me, and examining their websites to critique accessibility, to creating large canvases of acrylic art pieces, to expanding my tattoo flash interests and range.
Every day I try to document what I see around me, which was a big motivator for me coming out to the west coast. I’ve been carrying a small sketchbook to draw geographical locations, points of interest, architecture, and people.
While it is difficult being away from nearly everyone I know, this was a step outside my comfort zone, and thus a step in the right direction.
For the past ten weeks, I have been working on the Antioch College Farm for my first co-op and, so far, I’ve been having an incredible adventure. Working on a farm is nothing new to me—I’ve worked on dozens of farms in my home state of Michigan over the past nine years—yet this experience has been something extraordinary and new.
Maybe it’s the number of hours I’m working; I work close to forty hours a week, starting every morning at eight a.m. At first, it was grueling. I’m not used to waking up to physical labor that early and would oftentimes take naps in between my shifts. I remember after lunch I would rest in my old roommate’s room to make up for lost sleep, as I was used to sleeping until later in the morning. But, within the first couple of weeks, I got a healthy sleep regimen down (though it’s still not easy to commit to going to bed by eleven p.m. every night)!
Working a large number of hours on a farm also means I get to familiarize myself with the orientation of work and the areas I’m working in. I can remember exactly what variety of plants are growing in each area of the farm, and what maintenance they need (if the area needs weeding, thinning, mulching, harvesting, etc.).
It could also be the people I’m working with. My boss and coworkers are like friends and family to me. Communication is easy done efficiently; together, we work like clockwork!
But one of the most rewarding parts about working on the farm is learning about new bugs, plants, and animals on the farm—all of which I’ve been learning about through my colleagues. They often point out different varieties of life on the farm and tell me interesting facts, stories, dangers, and uses of different organisms. I’ve learned so much from my peers, and I always look forward to learning more.
I’ve also worked outside the farm in Birch Kitchens, preparing the produce we harvested for dinner and baking dessert every Friday. Earlier in the quarter, I worked in Glen Helen every morning, too, to help raise baby chicks that are now on the farm (and, as of just this last week, we once again have sheep grazing our solar panels).
Working the Farm-to-Table co-op has been hard, but the knowledge, strength, and energy I’ve acquired from working here so far outweigh any negatives I’ve experienced. I would highly recommend this co-op to anyone wanting to learn more about agriculture, sustainability, or the foundations of food preparation here at Antioch, or anyone who just wants to stick their hands in some soil! Become a plant person!