full circle planting celebration - the bishop's ranch, healdsburg, ca

Lydia
Lydia
sowing seed at the Bishop's Ranch
sowing seed at the Bishop's Ranch
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#OurWheat -Saturday, March 7, 2015 was one of the most spectacular days.  The weather could not have been more beautiful, bestowing sunshine on our lively group gathered to plant heirloom wheat. Our pal, Lydia Ruffin, one of last year’s St. Louis Visionary Award Winners, offered her warmth and musical talent leading us in traditional farm music such as “Hoe, Emma, Hoe” and the lyrical tune, “The Farthest Field” by David Dodson.  Not long after we began planting, Malcolm Young, rector of Christ Church Los Altos, his delightful wife Heidi Ho and their daughter jumped into the music making.

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A team of young rock collectors tirelessly removed over a hundred stones from our field.

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We used home-made muslin seed bags, hand-printed with a 150-year-old Liberty of London fabric stamp that the owners of The Pineapple Inn in Lewisburg, PA, lent me when they heard about this project.  They made handsome, reusable bags.

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Just before lunch, members from Christ Church Los Altos and St. Clements Berkeley joined us by blessing the field and sowing seeds. Reaching into the seed bags each person drew out grain to plant.  I couldn't help but think of communion; but this time instead of receiving bread, they were planting the seeds that make our bread - completing the ancient and sacred circle; growing, eating and sowing anew.  Wendell Berry says it best: "Eating with the fullest of pleasure - pleasure, that is, that does not depend upon ignorance - is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world.  In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend."

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Vincent Felice, a friend from my grain growing group, showed the sowers where to plant the seeds.  He  remarked afterwards how this simple act of sowing seeds moved people.  People shared how connected they felt to the whole cycle of growing by sowing only a few seeds.

We offered an Irish blessing, *May the rains sweep gentle across your fields*May the sun warm the land*May every good seed you have planted bear fruit*and late summer find you standing in fields of plenty*

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This summer once the grain has ripened we’ll gather again for a harvest party.  Soon after our stone-milled flour will be available to churches for communion bread and wafers.  Here’s information on how churches can Join our CSA and buy amazingly delicious and healthy flour to bake the Staff of Life!

Measuring and documenting the growth of the plants will take place each week – posting the photos here.  "Follow this blog" to get the photos sent to you.  This practice is called “phenology,” the study of a plants’ life-cycle.  The information is used to gauge the effects of temperature, moisture and soil fertility on the growth stages - helpful information as we plant again next year.