As my internship at D Acres comes to a close, I can count the weeks that have passed by the size the plants in the gardens have grown. The peas in the mandala garden, which had barely begun to reach their curly tendrils off the ground when I first got here, have now surpassed me in height and are bursting with juicy, plump pods. I knew I couldn't leave without first sampling their crunchy fruits, and luckily those peas made it just in time, though it took some coaxing and cussing as I passed them each day on the way to and from my treehouse ("Come on, peas. You can do it--just grow a little faster!" or the more urgent request: "Damn it, grow.").
It is amazing all the other changes the farm has undergone since I arrived here a mere month-and-a-half ago: so many people (interns and hostel guests alike) have come and gone, seeds big and small have awoken from their long sleep and sprouted into plants of all different shapes, sizes and colors, dandelion and daisy pastures have been tamed and reclaimed into lush garden beds, three piglets were born, the chickens have seen two new homes, the rooster has gotten meaner, the bonfires have gotten bigger and more elaborate, and each new day only brings more laughter and joy (and bug bites, too) to the D Acres residents.
It is no surprise that laughter and high spirits abound in such a place--after a hard day's work in the gardens, the kitchen, or the blacksmith shop, it is hard to keep from doing various types of international dance (or often something more similar to the funky chicken) or crooning endless renditions of "What do you do with a drunken farmer" (you put him in the compost and let him rot).
And with so much care and compassion for the surrounding community of people, plants, and animals, D Acres is buzzing with life. Here at the farm, almost everything has a name (or two) and a familiar face, from the treehouses to the medicinal plants to the individual interns (including one aptly nicknamed "Maddog"). And almost everything and everyone has a specific function within the community that only that individual, be it person, plant, or conch shell, can bring.
What I especially love about D Acres is the way of life here--the means and accommodations are simple but rich, the community bonds strong but just loose enough for independence, and there is ample freedom to make mistakes, try new things, and get dirty. Living at D Acres is so inspiring because it is a proactive choice--the people here have chosen to be here and to live their lives a certain way and they have made the changes necessary to do so. It is refreshing to be reminded that we really aren't completely stuck in the current societal system--as Ghandi once said, "I believe it to be perfectly possible for an individual to adopt the way of life of the future. . .without having to wait for others to do so." Indeed, D Acres is a place of positive change and proactive decision-making--its residents seem to be striving not just to make their vision into a reality, but reality into a vision of a better, more sustainable world. And from the sight of the place, it seems to be working (and if you haven't been there yet, I highly suggest you go).
All in all, my time at D Acres has been so much more than just an internship--though I have come away with many useful skills for the present and future (and black fly battlescars to prove it)--I have learned about permaculture practices, cooking with whole, seasonal foods for large groups of people, how to build a stone wall, how to castrate a pig, how to change a bike tire, how to (almost) do a handstand, how to live and work with a diverse (and largely crazy) group of people, and so much more--in the end it was the journey itself, the experience of interning at D Acres, which is most dear to my heart. No words could ever really describe the reality of what it is like to live there--nor could any photograph depict the beauty of the surrounding environment or the thriving community (I have heard, though, that there's a pretty good D Acres video in the works). Certainly, no peas could have ever tasted as good as those I ate on my last day at D Acres--nor could they have been eaten in better company.
With much love and thanks to those that have made D Acres possible and keep it going strong,