Peppermint Wishes and Asparagus Dreams

I am trying to soak in every minute of the Growing Places Indy summer apprenticeship. Heaven knows I’m having a hard time writing it all down. By the time I get around to updating ye olde blog, I am either falling asleep on the couch/drooling on my dog or I feel like I’m coming off very Pollyanna about the whole thing.

Fair warning: this entry will be of the Pollyanna variety.

As I process all that we have done over the last three weeks (and oh, we have done a lot), things have shaken out a bit:

  • Week 1: I’ve Got Nothing to Do Today but Smile – I ended the week in a total state of bliss, pinching myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.
  • Week 2: Back to Life, Back to Reality – During week 2, the rubber hit the road (figuratively and literally, in terms of my bike traveling 60 miles around Indianapolis in four days). The hard work began, and my body, used to hours sitting in front of a computer, was jolted into a new reality: sunshine and fresh air and work in the dirt among the green things. By the end of the week, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally.
  • Week 3: I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends – This week, I felt comfortable enough in the work that I could expand my gaze to the people around me – the apprentices and leaders of the program – and make the mental space to really talk with them and enjoy their company, building relationships over mulberry trees and Jerusalem artichokes. It has been my favorite week so far for that reason alone.

I’ve also met even more people across Indianapolis who I would like to be when I grow up. I am in awe at the variety of things going on in this fair city and the incredibly open, welcoming, and inspiring people behind them. Just in this past week, we’ve met:

  • Bob Shaver, Karp Resources, about job options in local food economies.
  • Thom England, Ivy Tech Culinary Center, who is passionate about all things local and sustainable, including operating a beautiful state of the art, no-waste culinary school facility. Note: this is no small feat!
  • Amy Matthews, South Circle Farm, who is one of the hardest working women I have ever met. Not only do I want to be her when I grow up in terms of the work she is doing, but her whole demeanor was so kind, welcoming, and chill; I aspire to learn a little something from that, too.
  • Imhotep Adisa and Paulette Fair, KI EcoCenter, who shared so much of their worlds with us. I was inspired by the obvious passion and love they have for their community and especially the kids within it.
  • Sister Faiza, Living Well Community Garden, who recognized a need in her community and, three summers later, has a garden that brings people together to grow, to cook, and to share. I loved hearing how quickly a spark on an idea can become something as wonderful as a community garden.

Before I started the apprenticeship, I was most excited about learning the farming aspects: hands on skills, planning tools, strategies for making a living and bringing food to market, and getting my hands in the dirt. After this week when people ask me about the apprenticeship, I start by gushing about how amazing everyone in the program is, followed quickly by how inspiring the people of Indianapolis are.

I didn’t anticipate that going into this program, but maybe that says more about me and my own headspace than anything else. I always want to know how to get things done and then do it. The more I think about it, though, relationships are perhaps the most important thing we can build and grow – in encouraging a local, sustainable food culture and economy, for sure, but also in everything we do. I feel like I had somehow forgotten that amidst all the to do lists and deadlines and conference calls and tasks that need to be accomplished.

20130613. Asparagus dreams at the Near Eastside Legacy Center.

Speaking of relationships, the beautiful and awesome Elise, one of my fellow apprentices, shot this picture of me on Thursday, tied up in the asparagus fronds. I think this is an accurate depiction about how I feel about all of my new friends, aka the other apprentices in the program, and my general lot in life.

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