My Final Days at ARI
Participants Came Home!
Twice a year participants go on a two-week study tour around Japan. They came home very tired but we woke them up with a nice water fight and followed it by a nice candlelit dinner.
Importance of Rain
While the participants have been gone I was put in charge of the group 4 field. Group 4’s field is very big and I could only do so much even with help from work campers and visitors. It was nice to learn how to observe the field in a deeper way knowing that I would have to figure out what had to be done. One of the participants had left me a note on some things to do and some things to transplant from the nursery.
We spent a lot of time in the rice paddy for the first week weeding and weeding some more. The spiders getting in your face got old, but the view was breathtaking just like when I arrived here.
In the group field we harvested on Tuesday and Friday, as usual, and did field observation on Monday and Thursday. The evening is the best time for transplanting so with our buyo, nasty little biting flies, protective gear on we transplanted two different types of cabbage and broccoli. As I observed the field I noticed that many plants were dying. The caterpillars were eating our tomatoes and we had not had rain in quite some time. We mixed up some bamboo vinegar, a waste from making charcoal, with water and helped the tomatoes, but there is only so much time to carry water from the pigpens to the field. We managed to save a few of the transplanted cabbage but really, we desperately needed rain.
I’ve never had such a connection to rain. Other than dreading walking in it or enjoying the sounds in bed I never thought about rain. Of coarse we have other ways to get water now but rain is something that comes from the heart of nature. I really felt for our withering crops and was really saddened to see all of our hard work wither away with them. Nature’s tears nurture and guide our crops and in turn our crops give us life.
Final Working Days
I finished up my work in the office, or what I could get done, the week before. I put some final touches up in the new farmshop annex which is the main entrance for guests, office workers, and participants and volunteers.
The idea was to use as many local resources as possible. ARI has many things lying around either from nature or from donations. We also have many volunteers and staff with different talents and connections. For example, I was able to design and draw the bamboo light fixtures and the curtains and they could be made by volunteers at ARI. We also reached out to a local organization in which the disabled creates wooden signs or decoration based on your design.
I also won the contest for the new 2012 Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration logo. ARI has this event every year in October and the logo and theme provide a structure. After all that had happened this last year at ARI with the disasters, the incorporation of the idea of sustaining and loving the land was important. I was also very touched that I will be a part of HTC this year in spirit, even though I will be back home.
Theme: Harvest for love, sustain for tomorrow.
Last Day On The Farm
My last day on the farm was spent in the very peaceful carrot field. Weeding is the life of an organic farmer and it feels right that I carried this out one last time. One of the commuting volunteers even brought us ice cream!
Last Time for Kitchen Garbage
Tuesday I drove to town for the last time to collect the fish guts, okara, tofu, and rice & veggies. I said goodbye to my friends in the fish market and at the school lunch center, who I could never actually really talk to. It was nice to see that I had made a small impact even by only stopping there twice a week for a couple of minutes.
Last Morning Gathering
I had my last morning gathering the day before I left. I had one of the funniest actors play myself and Rachel and made a brief outline of key points of my journey here. I felt that making everyone laugh and to see smiles was the best way to go. Of coarse I couldn’t help the tears during the ARI song “Take My Hand”, the simple line of ‘Take my hand that has labored in the soil.’ gets me almost every time. I feel so grateful to have such a loving community and to be able to stand in front of them and express my feelings. I will miss this time of sharing because it brings us all closer. When we understand each other, our wants, needs, things we love or dislike, then we can be one.
Before I left I wanted to make sure that I could see where all of the ARI activities would be taking place when I leave. They will finish the new Koinonia, our main building and dining hall, right after I leave so I asked the general contractor to take me around. It was so nice to see how far it has come and I could really feel the time of ARI’s struggle with the Earthquake and radiation start to dissipate. I could feel the laughter and crying and I could see the people eating, talking, reading a book and playing ping-pong. I could feel the spirit of ARI and this made me very happy.
Out & About
Organic Bazaar in the Woods!
One of the staff members and I joined an organic bazaar to sell ARI goods in Nasu mountain area. It was so peaceful and having a foreigner at your table always draws a lot of attention and nice talks.
My last weekend here one of the commuting volunteers invited some of us over to his house. His house was so cute and his little dog Chiby-chan made everything perfect. Rain finally came with not such great timing as we trekked down to the river, but I was happy to have it. The river was beautiful surrounded by beautiful stones and leading to the beautiful view of Nasu Mountain. After we headed back and had a BBQ with soba yaki, fried noodle, and deer meat. It was so peaceful and it was nice to have a final trip to a kind Japanese household.
Getting Ready To Come Home
As I get ready to come home I am very nervous and am split with mixed emotions. I am ready to eat some American food and get back into my culture but how will I ever say goodbye to these amazing people that I have built a life with. I know that they will forever live in my heart with ARI and everything that I have learned here.
Thank you so much for your support and kindness while joining me on this mission,