Working on an organic farm can be a very interesting and entertaining endeavor, especially when you have little or no experience in farming!
There are all those preconceived thoughts that come to one’s mind with what goes on, on a farm: waking up early, lots of manual labor, remembering when and how much to water the plants, weeding, lots and lots of weeding. Not to mention combating the evil forces of tomato eating crickets, gophers, moles and the occasional “stinkus maxi-mus,” the skunk.
So, take all those fun ingredients, mix in a handful of people you may or may not know, put it in a spiritual community, and you know what my friend?, you’ll have yourself a very good time.
Take the lot of us, Claire, Stefan, Hannah and myself. Are any of us farmers? Well, not exactly. If you saw us on the street you wouldn’t say to yourself, “Well look at those mighty fine farmers!” Yet, here we’ve been, farming. You could even say (with some accuracy) that we’re faking it!
And I would agree with that statement, except for the fact that we are being led by two of the finest organic, bio-dynamic farmers west of the Mississippi: Ananta and Maria. And through them we are learning not only how to care for and heal the soil, raise healthy and scrumptious veggies and connect with the land so we are in harmony with it, but to dive deep within ourselves and connect with that part of us that longs for deeper meaning, truer understanding and soul bliss that is as much a part of who we are as are our smiles.
Just as each season is different and each year varies in rainfall, each one of us is different and will experience the same day in our own way. Our stories of how we came to be here are as well our own.
Hannah, originally from Upstate New York, was traveling across the country. After making a stop at the Burning Man festival, she found herself working in Grass Valley in a ladies house, cleaning her pantry when she thought she was going to learn about farming. After that disappointment, she found out about the Karma Yoga Program and Ananda Village’s yoga retreat center, The Expanding Light. With summer around the corner and the encouragement of a motorcycle-driving wood worker,she decided to apply to become a farm apprentice.
“I wanted to go deeper into the experience of living in a spiritual community, working in service to others, and living cooperatively. Being at Ananda,” she adds, “I’ve felt my life come together for the first time.”
As for myself: I came from Sacramento, California, a short run down the hill from Ananda. My parents met Ananta and Maria when I was just a wee lad, though it wasn’t until I was 19 when a deeper interest in spiritual matters brought me to Ananda on my own. After living in Ananda’s community in Sacramento for a number of years, the farm life was calling.
My take: This is an inspiring place. The days are a bit longer with so much to do around here. It makes getting out of bed a little tricky, but once I do, its always worth it. My day always has a better flow and focus when I meditate first. It’s like breakfast for the Soul!
Claire, an “Ananda baby” and graduate of the Portland Living Wisdom School, first came to Ananda Farm after graduating high school in 2010. “I was entering a new phase of my life and I needed a place to reflect and discover what I was seeking to accomplish and what my next step would be in reaching that goal.”
“When I decided to come serve on the farm,” she says, “I knew it was going to be a great experience because I felt so much joy and peace surrounding the decision though I had no idea my life was going to change so much in such a short time! When I came to Ananda Village I saw the teachings with fresh eyes and I came to appreciate this path on a much deeper level. I carry this newly found inspiration in my heart always and I can’t wait to go out and share it with the world.”
When questioned what Claire has been learning while on the farm, she answered, “I feel that one of the most important things I am learning on the farm is the ability to work with joy and present-moment awareness. With this attitude, my happiness is no longer dependent on outside circumstances. There is so much freedom in that!”
Claire is currently away from Ananda Village and attending Maharishi University in Iowa.
Stefan originally hailed from New Jersey where he was known, by a select few, as the “Minister of Funk.” After a couple of years of college on a swimming scholarship in Santa Barbra and walking about the U.S. as a wandering sadhu, Stefan found himself, like Hannah, in the Karma Yoga program at The Expanding Light.
Wanting to “learn practical farming skills and [to] reconnect with the earth”, Stefan applied for an apprentice position on the farm. For Stefan, a challenge was knowing “where I fit in this great ocean of life. It takes courage to take that step to do the Divine will and ask for God’s help.”
“By contributing my small part to improving the farm,” Stefan continues, “I benefit from the energy that the other 250 residents add. Many hands made a miracle in everybody’s life here. My spiritual family gives me the inspiration and support to strengthen my good habits and to drop old ways of thinking that drain my energy.”
And really, who wants their energy drained by bad habits and poor thinking? I thought so. So here are the stories of four people from coast to coast who came together to learn more about themselves, each other, and the spirit that abides in each and everyone of us.
Joy to you,
P.S. If you would like to learn about being on the farm yourself, you can contact us here.