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A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Returning to Nature: Verdugo ’23 at the Antioch farm

Here on the Antioch Farm, small-scale production coupled with farm-to-kitchen organic approach is the main objective. This was intriguing coming from the concrete jungle of Los Angeles where the idea of small-scale farming was merely a fantasy for me. With an ever increasing demand for better food and the rise of health and wellness related topics, going back to buying fresh, locally produced food is getting more popular. At Antioch, the food forest and the annual gardens and even the main farm are utilized to explore different permaculture and organic farming principles. During this co-op I set my mind to further explore what it means to work on a small-scale farm. While working hands-on I was able to get an intimate feel for some of the disadvantages and advantages that came along with it. Small-scale farming is very hard work and consists of a lot of manual labor, it does provide a lot of benefits in comparison to regular farming practices, such as food security, improving the health of communities, producing high quality food, and at the same time improving the overall quality of the soil.

A normal day on the farm for me consists of harvesting, washing, and weighing all the crops and eggs that are collected in the morning. After dropping whatever yield we collected for that day at the birch kitchen we head back to the farm and begin any weeding and any other of the daily tasks like transporting starts, seeding and watering. Chicken duty at night and in the mornings has also been part of my routine. In the morning the chickens are usually so excited to see me and run to me like exited dogs wanting love and affection except this isn’t the case, they are more excited for their food than my love, compared to at night the chickens and geese are more so filled with dread as I walk up to their pens as this means it’s time to go inside

the pens for the night. Lets just say my patience was a skill I wasn’t expecting to be sharpened by this co-op as much as it did while trying to get the geese inside their pens at night. Because the Antioch farm is operating as a small scale farm there’s usually a bit more manual labor because tractors and other heavy machinery is rarely used with most of the work around crops is done by hand. It was really rewarding for me to see the food being used in the kitchens and it gave me a newfound respect for where our food comes from. So often we take for granted how exactly our food came to be on our plates but after working hands on with our crops it’s given me perspective and a strong desire to eat more ethically and locally grown foods.

There’s been a strong disconnect within me and probably many others having to do with the rhythm of the natural world, the seasons and where we have a role in all this. After living so long isolated from nature it has left me with a deep yearning for knowledge on how to live more in harmony with other humans and the natural world. I learned that instead of being merely a consumer and separate we can be active participants in the healing of the land we are on and all other beings we share the space with. Being able to wake up everyday and go out to the farm has given me the privilege to slowly close this gap. Growing food is more than just putting a couple seeds in the ground waiting for a yield taking and consuming, it’s watching nature’s patterns, knowing when to intervene, when to take a step back and remembering to stay grateful.  Overall this co-op experience left me with not only just skills I hope to implement on future personal small scale farming projects but a deeper appreciation for the food systems that are in place and a deep appreciation for nature and remembrance of how we fit into the collective systems that are currently present.


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