Greg’s Whirlwind Circumnavigation of the Continent

Dear friends of Dancing Seeds Farm far and wide,

Boy have I been on a whirlwind circumnavigation of the continent, and getting much needed rest, from the Go! Go! Go! Of farm life. From Wolfville, Nova Scotia to New York City, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and now my hometown of Oakland, CA for Thanksgiving before heading back to the island; it has been a trip filled with lots of family time, incredible food, art, and inspiration.

Though my seaplane from Friday Harbor was cancelled due to weather, and the ferry was delayed 2 hours, I was still able to make my flight at the end of October from Sea-tac to Nova Scotia for the Devour! Food Film Festival, which my dad is involved with.

A small town in many ways similar to Friday Harbor, Wolfville  and its residents are charming and welcoming. For four days we watched films about cuisine, farming, wine, and more. Films were broken up by workshops on things like knife sharpening, tasting biodynamic and organic wines, vineyard and orchard tours, and making chocolate truffles. And each night was capped with an incredible dinner inspired by a film of the day.

I was fortunate to get a personal tour of Tap Root Farm, a large-scale version of what we’re doing at Dancing Seeds Farm, which was quite inspiring and motivating. Film-wise I was massively inspired by Charged – and it’s subject whom was present, Eduardo Garcia. Garcia is present in every moment, and full of life and gratitude, something that has stuck with me so far this month, and I hope continues to stick. It’s amazing how focusing on all that you have, rather than what you don’t, can change your perspective on a daily basis.

Speaking of which, your friend and mine, Grace Winchell is currently at a refugee camp in Greece. She just started this Go Fund Me campaign that she is using to buy more food and other necessities for the hundreds of people there who are fleeing from war and famine.

With our bellies and minds saturated, we flew down to New York City to visit my sister and her young family. The whole family dressed up as characters from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood for Halloween, and after doing some trick or treating, handed out candy to those still on the hunt. My family loves the theater, and saw an interesting take on Oklahoma!, a wonderful production of My Fair Lady, and one that I’ve been yearning to see since it came out, The Book of Mormon! We also went to some museums, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and general NYC exploring.

We also took a day trip out to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. We got a tour of their gardens, composting system, animal systems, greenhouses, and more. I got some great ideas for production, systems, farm management, education, and farm business enterprises!

From NYC, my parents and I flew to New Orleans, somewhere I had never been, and they hadn’t been since before I was born. We spent two days with a friend in Baton Rouge, where we visited the Houmas House Plantation Museum as well as the LSU Rural Life Museum. Both sites provided hauntingly rich historical insight into the lives of slaves and Sugar Baron plantation owners.

In New Orleans, we ate a LOT of fish, fried things, things with gravy, etc. Suffice it to say I am ready for a heavy dose of fresh vegetables! We also visited some museums such as the incredible WWII Museum, the Jazz Museum, and the New Orleans City Park Sculpture Garden and Museum, and the intimate and strange Backstreet Mardi Gras Indian Museum.

And of course, we heard some head noddin’, booty shakin’ brass bands on Frenchman’s Street at places such as The Spotted Cat and Preservation Hall and the not to miss weekly Sunday Second Line parade that winds through the Treme district where locals and tourists revel in life, music, dance, camaraderie…What if people did this weekly celebration of life and friendship in more places!?! I think we’d be better off. I’m already thinking about my return trip to this colorful and musical part of the country.

On the final leg of my trip, I am now in Oakland, CA where I grew up. It’s always nice to see old friends, visit old haunts, and see all that has changed here in recent years. This time is less nice, as the air is filled with smoke from the Camp Fire 200 miles north of here, and going outside really isn’t an option. With the smoke we all experienced on the island this last summer and down the West Coast, our fire at the farm, and now these devastating fires here in North and Southern California, it’s a sad new normal that we may have to live with year after year.

So, as my trip culminates around Thanksgiving, I am thankful to have the incredible life that I have; my wonderful parents for fostering and supporting a love of travel, great food, art, and culture; and the support of the Dancing Seeds Farm team to be able to take such a long trip (which I will make sure to reciprocate when they need to take a vacation!). Despite the barrage of negative news that tries to pummel us daily, I am grateful for all that is GOOD in our lives, and that many of us on the island have the ability, fortune, and drive to work towards building the kind of world we want to see.

 

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