January at Woolman

Meaghan McCallum, Kitchen/Garden Intern
Friday, January 16, 2009

The Spring 2009 Woolman Semester is in its first weeks and the campus is reawakened with young ideas and fresh energy.

The campus, nestled among pine and manzanita, is in the process of reinventing itself with expanding student enrollment, creative gardening practices, and an evolving awareness of community and consumption.

The garden manager, Malaika, is overseer of soil enrichment experiments, or, variant compost techniques. One notable project is tea composting- a process where composted organic matter is submerged in water in a large outdoor tub and oxygenated with fish bubblers. The tea is then sprayed directly onto the soil and stimulates a rich nutrient base for growing plants.

Most exciting, in my opinion, is a new irrigation system that will run on timers! This means water schedules will be an automatic process and our focus will adjust toward cultivation, maintenance, necessary repairs and revisions to the existing garden.

Adjacent to the garden is an empty chicken coop. There are also two or three hearty free-range chickens that continue to exist, despite dwindling numbers. This is so because, as Lara, the World Issues teacher suggests, they pull switchblades on the hungry, drooling cougars.

In other garden news, Karen, a kitchen/garden intern, trapped a rat that was routinely feasting on baby buds in the germination station. She drove that rodent off with a one-way ticket to the Yuba river in a pickup truck. The transport was graceful and now all parties walk along safer soils.

In other news, the stars are out! It’s a grade-a planetarium out here- the dark skies are an astronomer’s dream. Of course, rain and fog take their place intermittently, and all provide mystic appeal.

The kitchen, or dining hall (DH) and community gathering space, though closed the last week in January due to the student wilderness trip, opened with a caloric bang. Lots of pizza, fresh salad bar, hand smashed guacamole, thick and pretty mac & cheese, and other healthy/delicious comfort foods (oxymoron?) welcome students and newcomers and remind staff and community members of the bounty and (quite possible anatomical expansion) that occurs here at our hearth. Instead of injecting our food with hormones, we massage love into our creations (corny but true).

As for myself, a recent migrant from the Northeast, I am unabashedly thankful for the warm winter California air, crisp evenings, not very eco-friendly but cozy wood-burning stove and this opportunity to experience and contribute to a community that projects a mindful awareness that is cultivated from within.

The Woolman Semester, with exceptional faculty, staff, community members, students and interns provides us all with the opportunity to openly question, consciously act, and cultivate awareness of our interconnectedness here on earth.

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