Elemental education

In case you are wondering why there hasn’t been a blog post in nearly two months, it’s because we mainly use the Facebook page to communicate with people following us. It enables us to post quick updates on projects and call on people to help out, but this blog provides ample space to share more deeply and completely our experience at Dreamseed, for those who really want to know. Blog posts will become a regular thing as we get used to documenting our process, so please follow this page and look out for an announcement of our permanent website, which will be at http://www.dreamseedcollective.org.

So much has been done in the past month, once the weather started working in our favor. I will list some of the things we have started or completed, and then when I get to the home computer, I’ll add some photos. We are actively developing the land every weekend and welcome as much help as we can get with gardening, landscaping and construction projects. Please see the “what we need” link for a more precise list of things we need and what we need help with, but for now, I am calling in a professional plumber for a fairly simple renovation.

The main vegetable garden has received a lot of loving attention recently. The beds are nearly all cleared and tilled, ready to plant as soon as we remove some more salmonberry from the peripheral beds. Topsoil and compost was ordered so there is plenty of soil to fill the garden boxes and medicinal herb garden. The retaining wall around the herb garden is still under construction but close to being ready to fill and plant. Tomatoes will most likely be grown in pots in the sunniest spot of the property, so this week we are getting those seeds growing in a greenhouse. It’s a late start for tomatoes from seed, so we are hoping that the farmer’s almanac is correct and this will be a hot summer. We are challenged by some large patches of moving shade across the gardens and face the dilemma of whether or not to remove some trees. Rather than make a hasty decision, we may have to ride out this growing season and see what kind of yield we get before taking down any of the beautiful cedars that give so much character to the meadow.

The more time I spend immersed in nature with my hands in the earth or on rocks, tree branches or vines, the more I learn the most basic lessons of life. These are lessons that could have saved me a lot of grief earlier in life had I learned them as a child. While moving large stones to build a retaining wall, I remembered my initial frustration and sense of defeat when I saw the size of some of those stones–I thought there was no way I would be able to move any of them. But once I dove in and just started creating the retaining wall, I realized that there were in fact some rocks that I could move by myself. As for the ones I could not move, they taught me that a lot of things in life are already decided, and rather than react to those things with frustration or disappointment, we can choose to accept the way they are and move around them. The rocks I couldn’t move were anchors for the rest of the wall, which was decidedly not perfect, and the rocks I could move were placed in between the others and carefully piled to create a wall to contain the soil. We can do what we can with what we have, and work around everything else. 

I am also learning more subtle lessons from vines, branches, other plants with their own strong agenda. I am learning to listen to plants more deeply. I am remembering what fertile, healthy soil smells like, and I am remembering how much I loved all animals as a child. We have a few amazing owls on our land that we have yet to see but can hear clearly at night. We have five deer who wander through and graze, and until we have a dog, we will have to protect our food from them. They can eat their fill of salmonberry leaves. The other night I heard what sounded like a LOT of coyotes. And we have many frogs of all sizes. These creatures are the totem animals of Dreamseed and I feel called to create a piece of artwork that represents their energies.

Overall, it is beyond clear that we made the right decision by jumping into this endeavor. We are all getting into shape and breathing lots of fresh, clean air every weekend, soaking up the sunlight and basking in the beautiful sounds of the forest. The stream can be heard from my camper and it is better than any music I could choose at home. Eventually I will live at Dreamseed full-time, after a gradual, careful transition that takes care of all my personal needs and enables me to approach the work of building at a reasonable pace to avoid burnout.

In the next few weeks, we will be getting and installing rain barrels for drinking water. I have been paying extra attention to gutters on residential buildings and researching different methods of water collection. Drinking rain water makes the most sense and alleviates any concerns we may have about the well water, which smells strongly of sulfur. Contemplating it all has got my mind on water in general. I relate most strongly to water and earth, of all the elements, so I am applying myself primarily in those directions. But all of the elements ask for consideration when you live so close to nature. I’m sure they will all have lessons for me in time.

The Sun seems to be demanding the most attention as we make plans to grow food. We have made charts of sun/shade hours in the gardens and will choose planting locations accordingly. It would be very helpful to have someone come out and consult with us about the cedar trees that are making the most shade in our food growing areas. If we do end up having to take the trees out, we intend to use all the wood to build with, to keep the energy of those trees close to home.

Thank you for following our blog and please be sure to follow us on Facebook too. If you are able to pitch in and help us out this month (May), please send a message to dreamseedcollective@gmail.com or through the Facebook page. We hope that you will plant some Dream Seeds of your own this spring.