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Victory Gardens for Peace Mini-Farm Report
by Matt Drewno, VGFP Mini-Farm Manager

Victory Gardens for Peace in full bloom over the summer (credit: Matt Drewno)

Image: Victory Gardens for Peace in full bloom over the summer (credit: vgfp)

As I write, there is a gentle rain falling on our yurt, moistening the land and bringing back the green growth we so welcome with the winter rains. Each year, spring and autumn bring a quickening focus on getting things ready for transition. In the spring, it's getting winter crops harvested, building compost, starting seedlings, prepping beds, and transplanting warm season crops. And in the autumn, it's harvesting our summer crops, building more compost, and cultivating beds in preparation for transplanting our winter cover crops. In the spring it's an acceleration towards a great rising and awakening of life, and in the autumn it’s working with nature to put things to rest so that they can awaken renewed and refreshed.

All of this plays into our personal lives as well. Each autumn—and I'm feeling it as I sit and write this very moment—there is an acceleration and then a strong drag which slows us down and calls us to rest. We ignite the wood stove to carry the light as days get shorter, and bask in the warmth as the rain falls, and we dry, and rest. It’s a blessing to work the Earth, to feel the sun, the changes that occur throughout the year, the rising and falling, in-breath and out-breathe, the ascending and descending—the rhythms of life and the universe.

Moving into winter we are given ample time to ref lect on the past year. Some of us then choose resolutions for the new year as the daylight begins to increase and ascend once again. At Victory Gardens for Peace, despite the challenges the world is facing and creating for itself, we feel the calm of knowing that there will be a time where a great shift will occur—I feel closer to it each day. At some point, we just have to walk away from all that we can no longer agree with and participate in and create the reality we want for ourselves, our families and our community. This is a difficult shift, because it involves not only deciding we can no longer participate, but it means we must also take on new responsibilities. To be responsible, able-to-respond can be a challenging choice. But its these challenges we set for ourselves which make us stronger, more sensitive and creative beings.

I would like to thank my coworkers Janét Moore and Matthew Gammett for their hard work this past year in growing a good garden, with great care for the soil. And our 8-month interns from Kenya, Clarice Wawuda and Eliakim Kipngtech who left their homes and families to come and learn with us for the past 7-months. It’s always a bittersweet moment as we approach the end of our internships as folks radiate the excitement of returning home to be with their beloved families, farms and communities, but also recognizing how much we will miss working with one another, the friendships formed and the journey of growing together. I am grateful for the many friendships formed over the years with Biointensive farmers around the world. There truly is a comfort in knowing that all over the world, we have allies and friends who know what is possible when we return to the Earth, in commune with Nature and in service of the vision of helping people realize their power in creating a better world.

I would also like to thank our recent high-school interns Adam Sholin, Papillon O’Feral, Francesca Mills, and Zayden Pfadt. Congratulations go out to both Adam and Francesca who graduated highschool this year, and have gone on to University to study Agriculture and Ecology. Their hard work and good energy will forever be in remembered in our hearts and our soil! Remember those who dug before you, they enrich our lives and our soils!

Special thanks also to our GardenCorps participants Suzabelle Spaulding, Ana Valencia, Marc Hoeppner, and Matilda Hernandez (and also Papillon, Francesca, and Adam mentioned above!). Our GardenCorps 4-month course requires commitment and focus to learn the techniques of Biointensive and design. This year we developed a design for a new community garden in Fort Bragg, CA, and are working to make it a reality. I’d like to thank the Bee Bold Alliance, the Katzeff Family, and Thanksgiving Coffee for their support for this project. We will keep you posted as this project grows and opens to give others in our community access to the resources to grow food for their friends and family and to build the relationships and confidence needed to transition to a local, sustainable community.

Eliakim, Matt, Matthew, Samuel, & Clarice at Montgomery Woods (credit: vgfp)In September, we were graced with a visit from friend and colleague Samuel Nderitu of G-BIACK (GROW BIOINTENSIVE Agriculture Center of Kenya). Samuel toured the Victory Gardens for Peace Mini-Farm, we discussed seed saving and seed banking in our communi t ie s, surprised by the similarities and challenges we face in creating safe, accessible, and healthy seeds for gardeners and farmers in our regions. We took a trip to Montgomery Woods, a beautiful grove of old growth redwoods just down the road from the garden. Samuel and I co-taught a class on seed saving at the local community college for folks enrolled in our sustainable vegetable and fruit growing class. It was a great trip, and we were so grateful for his visit. We send our best to all those in G-BIACK and across Kenya who are doing such amazing work to help farmers and soils thrive in challenging circumstances.

Image: Eliakim, Matt, Matthew, Samuel, & Clarice at Montgomery Woods (credit: vgfp)

Many other wonderful opportunities to help the community have taken root this past year, including: helping design a community garden for Seniors at the Fort Bragg Redwood Coast Senior Center; the Flockworks organization of Fort Bragg to assist in supporting their garden which serves TK-12th grade students in Fort Bragg; and the Sorrel Leaf Healing Center which serves children and adolescents experiencing mental health crisis to help with resources as they establish a mini-farm project to assist their residents in connecting with nature and eating healthy food. We feel blessed by the outreach and support which is reciprocated as we work together in serving our community.

GardenCorps students Suzabelle, Matilda, and Marc survey community garden site (credit: Matt Drewno)

Image: GardenCorps students Suzabelle, Matilda, and Marc survey community garden site (credit: vgfp)

Thank you all who made 2023 such a wonderful year. I feel honored to be a vehicle to translate your support into meaningful and responsible action to help inspire communities here and abroad. We all play an important role in making a better today and tomorrow. As 2024 approaches, I hope that you take time to rest and ref lect and build the visions and dreams to make 2024 a special year. Each year we approach closer to tipping points—tipping points which don’t always spell disaster, but can enable us to shed what does not serve our future and create the opportunities which will bring about a better world for all those living on Earth. Lets do it together!

Our next 4-Saturdays Workshop taught by John Jeavons and Matt Drewno will be held online Mar 2, 9, 16 & 23, 2024. Click for more information.

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