Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Intern Frank's First Week!

I’m not sure what I expected my first week at D Acres to be like. I was attracted to the experience for many reasons, but the fundamental reason was an attempt to reconnect myself to our land base and to learn tools to build a more sustainable community. I am a fourth year medical student at Boston University and I have essentially been living in cities for my entire life. While I love being out in nature, it is usually in some sort of recreational setting. Over the past few years, I have become more cognizant of my ignorance of such simple necessities as food and where my food comes from. I found that I had hit a theoretical wall where I had learned what I could through books and discussions, but that I needed to learn first-hand about my basic necessities and the connection to sustainability. I started my stay on a Monday. I was somewhat familiar with the schedule and layout of the place from the readings online and my work-day experience in July. We started with a great lunch of heated leftovers (fresher and tastier than anything I would get in Boston!) and I picked out my own tree house. The tree house option was a nice surprise, because I had prepared myself for six weeks of sleeping in a tent. I chose the Lighthouse, an excellent example of alternative building using recycled materials. It even has two floors and my own Buddha statue. We had the Monday meeting during the afternoon, where I learned more about the day-to-day goings of the homestead and signed up for my tasks for the week. We had a relaxing afternoon, excellent dinner by Bill and Betty, and then got myself settled and ready for the work week. The work week goes from Tuesday-Thursday, although there is always work being done during the rest of the week. I volunteered to help harvest on Tuesday morning. My first time ever picking blueberries and green beans! It was interesting about the work, and I’ve noticed this through many of the different chores I’ve been given. It starts off as this exciting and new thing. Maybe what people feel when they go apple picking? It’s something new to pick berries or get your hands in the dirt. It’ll be a great story to tell back home. And then after the first hour, your back starts to hurt, the sun gets hot, your mind starts to get impatient, or whatever little inconvenience arises. The work stops becoming new and exciting and it becomes work. Having worked in manual labor in the past, I was not new to the experience, but it always amazes me when it happens. Personally, I begin to question why I’m doing what it is I’m doing. It happens to me when I spend an entire sunny weekend studying in the library, or I miss birthday parties because I’m stuck in the hospital. On the farm, it brings into question the larger issue of what I think they are trying to accomplish, which is to remove the convenience of what many of us in “modern” society have come to expect. It is easy to walk into Whole Foods and buy a quart of organically grown blueberries. You can then go home and eat as many as you want But how much harder is it to be mindless about food when your back hurts because of the time you spent gathering that food? One of the big lessons I learned in the first week is that to work towards a more sustainable life means sacrifice and work, but that when the work is geared towards providing healthy and safe food, or a way of living that is kinder to the environment , there can be no change without getting your hands dirty. With the focus on community and communal living, you’re not alone in your struggles. Everyone works and you work to support everyone else, otherwise no one eats. Overall, it’s been a great experience as I learn to garden, work with farm animals, compost, cook, live communally, and many other things I’ve never been exposed to. There is a learning curve as I sometimes struggle to learn alternative ways of doing simple tasks (i.e. having to ask how to make tea without the pre-packaged tea bags), but I’m excited to continue learning and working towards the common goal.

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