I am in my third week here at Songaia and I'm not sure where to start when it comes to my experience here. I sat down and thought about some of the things we have been engaged in and I kept coming back to the ideas of experimentation and play. There is no one here who isn't involved in some cool and interesting project and there is an overwhelming sense of support from the community to explore these neat avenues.
The fact that the community is so willing to let us be a part of the permanent design is amazing. I had assumed as interns our role would be to just kind of do what we are told, but very contrary, everyone is interested in your opinion and input. Once we have a general idea of where the permanent paths and structures will be the next step is to build them and to decide what guilds of plants we will incorporate. I can only hope I am here long enough to see the project through to a comfortable place.
Patricia is the "mother hen" of the interns. We meet with her every morning and work with her throughout the day in the garden and kitchen. Everyday is a surprise because you never really know what you'll find in the garden. The garden is only a semi-predicatable creature and everyday it tells you what you need to do. One thing I've heard from a couple mouths here is, "the best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow." From what I can see that is Patricia. She moves through the garden inspecting everything. I don't think I have a single picture of her in the garden where her face isn't down in the plants.
If you're interested in bees, worms, black soldier fly larva or if you need anything really talk to Brent. Somebody once told me, "Possibility ends where we think it does" and that is what I think of when I see him. Brent is constantly exploring new avenues and immersing himself in weird and interesting tasks. One of the highlights of my time here was exploring what seemed like a hive of angry bees. It was truly awesome. I haven't had the pleasure of working with the maggots and worms, but I fear the time will come….I mean, I am unimaginably excited!
I was drawn here because of my interest in permaculture and Songaia is beginning to implement this style of gardening for the community. Katie, the resident landscape architect, is in the midst of building out a permaculture inspired food forrest. We have begun meeting with her on Tuesday's and mapping out the existing landscape and planning walking paths. It is a very organic kind of process - walking through the environment and paying attention to our natural curiosity to define the movement of the space. There is a certain creative freedom and responsibility I feel for this area.
I'm learning that you really need to look at your plants as individuals. By watching how they grow and tinkering with their environments you can achieve the best results. If you take the time to think critically about the plant's health on a personalized level you can really help get the most out of them.
One thing I didn't really think of was food processing. My brain was so focused on how to grow and organize your garden I forgot that you'll eventually need to do something with all of your beautiful produce. Often we spend our mornings harvesting and our afternoons cooking and canning. I never thought I would be able to say I AM A CANNER, but I think I could do it at home now…maybe with an email or two to Patricia for advice.
Composting, roses, goats, natural building projects - there are so many things to be a part of! I recently started poking my nose into the workshop here. From what I can tell, Nartano and Jean are the master builders and tinkerers on site. Nartano buzzes around with a wrench in hand fixing anything that can be taken apart and put back together. I think between all of these people I might be able to learn how to take care of myself as a human being. The journey continues….
by Leila Drici, Garden Intern 2013
Garden bloggers are community members, volunteers and interns at Songaia.