The days feel a little different at the farm. The winds are howling and the rain is falling. Interspersed with Poseidon’s gusts, the clouds part, revealing the deep blue sky and the natural grace of the crisp fall weather. The fog horn can sometimes be heard faintly in the distance of the nearby Saratoga passage. A golden yellow hue decorates the surrounding greenery, as the massive leafs of the Big Leaf Maple dangle and sail in the breeze. The mighty winds and rains of fall provide a sense of normalcy and comfort to the farm, bringing with them more time to slow down, go within, and reset our roots for the future.
Greetings farm friends and family,
It’s been quite a long time since our last newsletter, so for that we apologize. It has been a remarkable year, and taken a little time to begin to reflect, at least for the purpose of being able to communicate and share with you all again.
First of all, thank you 2015 members of the CSA, both in Lynnwood and on the Island. It’s important to acknowledge to you and others reading this, our eternal gratitude to the commitment of our members (and our market friends) who really make the farm possible as a business and ideal. While we still have some time before next season, we do invite you to hold the farm in your thoughts and prayers, as well as the planet and the growing community and spirit of Ananda Farming. A Yoga Nature farm is a tough nut to crack, and to some folks out there might sound a bit too nutty to exist in the first place.
But in a time of increasing energy and disharmony in both the human and natural worlds, we simultaneously are coming to realize the true reality of the vast inter-connection of all Life and Nature. From the Pope to the President, to the lost central valley of California, we recognize the need for change, and to sow the seeds of hope for a better world.
To this point, we see the work at the farm as our service; both with and for all of those willing to support and believe in new directions, and to the land and the Spirit on which we walk, dream, and sow our seeds.
Back at the homestead we stay active and present each day, while also finding time for some slower mornings, filled with extended stretching, chanting, singing bowls, and coffee and cream, errr, meditation! The seasonal transitions are always full of wonder, as if the closer we experience them in ourselves, the more in tune we are with the Creator’s earth song.
In the gardens, we often spend afternoons spreading the mulch (Love), putting the farm to bed for the winter. As we have so often experienced since we began, there is hardly a more gratifying activity than mulching the soil. It is, in essence, the spirit of giving. Straw, wood chips, hay, kale, alpaca litter, horse manure, leaves; everything mulch. And the more we give everything we can back to the soil, the more life the soil gives back to the farm and birds and bees alike.
Unquestionably the earth’s greatest mulch supplier is that of the trees. And so too, we plant trees; locusts, maples, apples and pears, oaks and elderberries and plums, in and around the garden orchards, and look forward to the day when these too drop their leaves in unitive harmony of all mulch-efforts.
Meanwhile, as a people community, we are 6 strong at the farm, 3 of us in the farm house (Stanley, Hailey and Myself) and 3 in the Haven House (Dakshinananda, Glenda, and Sharon). Together we have the foundation of an amazing group, each person bringing unique energy and inspiration to the family.
Nayaswami Hriman has been joining us every Tuesday evening for satsang and book study – which for the fall, has been the book Cities of Light, by Swami Kriyananda. The book presents the concept of living in Crystal Clarity, or one might say, living in and viewing the world from the perspective of your own highest self. Not an easy task, but certainly one worth exploring, and especially with regards to how we live in this world. In our case, we take a special interest in what this means to our farming and our relationship to life and nature on this planet. A topic for another day!
Meanwhile, Ananda Yoga is becoming more available on the island. Hailey is offering a Tuesday 6pm class at the farm house (inquire for directions), and Sharon is offering two Wednesdays classes at the Camano Country Club, at 9am and 6pm. Ananda Yoga, from my experience, is a hatha style asana practice focused on relaxing and uplifting the Spirit. It is excellent, and these are two excellent teachers! We also look forward in the new year to group meditations open to the community.
At the farm, a magical addition joined the community this fall by the name of Little Flower, our first beautiful cria (prounounced just like ‘kriya’ for the yogis out there), or baby alpaca. She pretty much came out of the womb walking upright, and it made for special moments when she was finding her mother to feed for the first time. She can often be spotted prancing in and around the big lady alpacas on nice afternoons.
Stanley is leading the charge at the orchard, pruning the apples and pears for next season. In the Spirit of Ghandi’s Second principle of Natural Farming: “Nothing born out of Mother Earth is Waste,” we then use the prunings as the foundation for wattle terraces and new garden beds along side the Haven House, where we anticipate many seasons of future tomato abundance.
Meanwhile, as more energy moves indoors for the season, the farm family both prepares for holiday markets and continues it’s mission of providing for the basic needs of one and all.
Dakshina often knits her evenings into beautiful alpaca hats, meditation rugs, scarves, gloves, and other textiles. As Ghandi’s charka, or spinning wheel, has come to represent to millions the spirit of Swadeshi, self-reliance, and a symbol of interdependence with all Life, so too, we ananda farmers explore these ideals in our own humble beginnings of community, farming, nature, and Yoga.
Hailey has been steadfast in the effort to fill the medicine cabinets – harvesting, crafting, bottling, and labeling the farm’s herbal medicinals. From tooth powder to comfrey oil, first aid spray and hand-made, goat-milk soap, and many, many others, the herbal home remedies production both supports the vitality of the farm and the health of farmers, and YOU! Find these products and more information about our home remedy mission, at Terry’s Corner (Camano Marketplace) on the island, at Handmade Holidays Market in Stanwood, at the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell, and at East West Bookshop in Seattle.
Meanwhile, the farm continues to expand in other ways as well, like that of an expanding Light! Glenda has officially begun pouring Ananda Farm eco-soy candles, hand-poured, with only essential oils and no funny stuff. At the farm these have kept the farm alters lit since the earliest days of in-habitation, and so it is with great joy (and a couple years of research on wick and wax!) that candle-maker Glenda has begun pouring more candles to spread the Light far and near.
It’s also with much gratitude to Glenda’s efforts, that we have dozens and dozens of jars of preserves put up for the winter: sage plum, strawberry blackberry, pear butter, tomato basil, and more. No sugar added to anything. These exceptional farm preserves can be found for sale at the Temple in Bothell, or by special request.
One of the greatest boons to take place this year has been the nectar of nature, Honey. Thanks to our fine friends at Cat’s Paw Honey, Andy and Bonnie Swanson, we have received approx 150 lbs of honey from the hives at the farm this year. Andy keeps and maintains the hives, and Bonnie extracts and bottles the honey. Because we are on the south end of Camano, surrounded by forest and gardens, this honey is pure and protected from the chemicals and practices of modern warfare, I mean modern agriculture. Often I’m reminded a story from Findhorn garden, when near the beginning Peter was doing much of the labor in the garden and in need of nourishment. Assuming they needed more meat protein and calories to sustain, Eileen prayed on this subject. The response, was in fact, eat more honey. What Peter required was not mere protein or calories, but actual life force, from the Source. And in Honey we see and experience an incredible example of both the miracle of Life and it’s healing properties made manifest. Ananda honey is available the Temple in Bothell, or one of the holiday markets.
In this spirit of the bees, we too work together and put out the cooper-art-ive energy on many projects. One of the first of which, was putting a new porch and cover on front door of the farm house. A place to sit and stay dry in the morning and evening, to take off your shoes and jacket before trouncing in and out of the farm house, and a place for the kitties to perch outside and be protected. The simplest things at the farmstead often provide the greatest function and joy.
Hailey’s Brother Cole, joining us on the roof of the farm house to install the farm’s first solar panel, which powers the new porch light.
Another reason for celebration and gratitude, is the harvest of a new farm cider press. Thanks to the generous contributions of more than 20 individuals, we were able to raise enough money to purchase our very own hand-crafted, electric-powered Correll Cider Press. Having pressed now for two years at our great friend Gil Schieber’s Skipley Farm in Snohomish, we have come realize very much the need to have and maintain our own press. We look forward to having you (and especially those that contributed!) out to press and sip your own fresh cider in the future.
We also are in the midst of planting our keeper and cider apple trees right now -many of which keep throughout the winter into the spring. We were blessed to have been gifted cuttings last spring of many great heirloom varieties. The Golden Russet, one of the first famous American apple’s ‘Baldwin’, Thomas Jefferson’s favorite, ‘Espinosus Spitzenburg’, and one of Europe’s most famous strudel apples, ‘Glockenapfel’, among many others.
Whew, I imagine you’ve caught the breeze by now. Good things are happening at the farm.
This note wouldn’t be complete without a huge thank you and shout out to a true farm saint, Donna King, owner of Cama Cafe, who helped us with almost every farm supper this year in the kitchen. If you haven’t been to a supper yet, see you next season!!
One final note worth mentioning – Hailey and myself will in fact be away for much of December, as we travel to Baja Sur to visit dear friends, Roy and Dede Lofts, head of the Fellowship of the Bay of Conception. Here we will get married on the beach on Dec 3rd :).
For our friends, family and the Masters, we have set the date with our friend and guides, Swamis’ Hriman and Padma, for the Ananda Wedding Cermony on March 20th, the equinox and Palm Sunday, at the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell. While this isn’t exactly a ‘public’ invitation, one imagines if you have made it this far in the newsletter, you’ve earned the right to know!
In the meantime, let us all sow our seeds of Love and Joy in this world, let us spread the mulch of gratitude and peace on earth, and let us plant the trees of abundance and harmony with Life. May the spirit of Ananda farming be within you!
Zachary and the Ananda Farmers
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