Back in September I decided to leave Chicago and intern on an organic farm in Plymouth, California. After about two and a half months working with my hands in the dirt, harvesting fruits and vegetables, mixing cement, operating power tools, and even helping out on a vineyard or two, I left Abbodanza Farm with something much more than what I was expecting. I had gained another family- Daniel, Quince, and Betty. They helped teach me valuable life lessons-I was able to reflect and discover myself; my strengths, my weaknesses. Most importantly, I found an escape from the only world that I knew at that time.
Since then I have been living in San Diego- working many hours a week and getting back into the busy, fast paced lifestyle we all know too well. I of course kept in touch at the farm, and I finally found a week to come back and visit. Going back to the farm, I was excited to see the seeds that I had planted back in October were now fully grown, leafy greens.
Swiss Chard and Lettuce Before:
Besides being able to cook with and enjoy leafy greens (kale, chard, arugula, lettuce…), sweet meyer lemons, herbs, green onions, and even some edible flowers (below), I have been appreciating every single minute of my time here. I am so lucky to be able to spend a week away from my cell phone, breathing hours and hours of fresh each day, and getting in touch with the earth again. It feels so good.
Look at this picture Daniel took of the cover crops we planted last October, now in bloom…
There is always work to be done here- but it never actually feels like work. Whether it’s spraying the vineyards or turning soil, it’s important to slow down and enjoy! I have even gotten to venture into hidden creeks, hike a bit, and climb so many trees- Matt- a friend from home- has been fun to explore everything with!
I love to play with power tools- especially on a roof top! (Especially when the goal is to break that shed down…eep!)
And here’s me priming some posts for one of Daniel’s many projects…
When the night time rolls around, we can always count on an extraordinary sunset.Each night dinner is an adventure. This trip we have made everything from fresh breads to Indian food to pancakes to fresh blackberry pies. We open a bottle of wine (okay maybe a few), snack on good cheese and crackers, and just laugh for hours while preparing the meal. There is always good music playing while we all do our part to help dinner come together.
Last night for Quince’s birthday (on left in picture below), he taught us how to make pizza dough. He is just finishing his first semester at Pastry school, and we have been lucky enough to be guinea pigs for some of his fresh breads this week. He is really talented!
See? This is another night this week…
We had caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, arugula from the yard, walnuts from the yard, cheeses (bleu, brie, Dubliner, mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar), pesto (frozen from last season’s basil harvest), tomato sauce, ricotta bechamel, sausage, avocado, fresh onion, herbs (oregano and thyme) from the yard, fresh garlic, capers, and roasted peppers. (I think that’s it!)
Then we got to work…
I loved every single pizza. The crust was delicious- soft and crunchy- kind of a New York style, and everyone’s individual selection of toppings went together really nicely. We said, how could you go wrong with those toppings? Mmmm! But, my personal favorite was the one Betty made, with the ricotta bechamel, bleu cheese, pesto, arugula, fresh garlic, walnuts, brie, mushrooms, mozzarella…and more. But I can’t remember. It was all green and white. To me, it was perfect! (below)
Everyone’s individual personalities come out through their creativity in pizza making. It was fun to see it all come together!
We finished the meal with a salad- something we always do here. We eat the salad after the meal. It’s a good way to end and slow down on what you’re consuming! If you’re gonna keep eating, might as well be salad, right?
The night started with an idea of pizza and ended with a rubber band fight around the house- it was full of laughter- the kind that makes your stomach hurt- and just good energy all together.
I’m so happy Daniel was filming the entire night… definitely a night we want to remember. It was a great last meal all together- at least this time here at Abbodanza- and I think Quince really enjoyed his 22nd birthday dinner.
I have to leave tomorrow to go back to San Diego- I wish this week could have lasted much longer- but it’s nice to know I can always come back for a visit. I was reminded of a much simpler lifestyle- and I was able to really reflect on what’s important to me. I find I get away from that a bit too often. Next time I find myself going through the motions of an overly busy life, I need to remember to close my eyes and picture myself planting seeds, hands in the dirt, climbing trees, or watching water trickle into a peaceful creek. But I have a feeling I won’t be forgetting about this trip soon- my hands are cracked, my legs are all brused and scraped up, and my arms are sore. Yet, I wouldn’t want it any other way!