8/3/18 - Week 9 - Joshua Harris: The Corn of Life and Death

There is the practical side of farming; there is the goofy side; and then their is the sacred side...

This week, we have a beautiful entry from CSA member Joshua Harris, about a very special friend growing in the back of East Field.

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Last-last Thursday morning, in the mist amongst the many green growing beings enjoying their morning drink from the arcing sprinklers, the fertile soil and eager earthworms of our beloved community farm, we welcomed a special new occupant.

Lovingly known as Concha, these blue-and-white corn seeds are storied to be descendants of an ancient, sacred variety of corn known to the Tzutujil Maya of Guatemala as "Birth and Death" corn.

According to Martín Prechtel, who carried the seeds from the village of Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala to the US, the descendants of this corn were stored carefully in the rooves of villager's homes where they were retrieved and prayed with during the namings of babies as well as ceremonies for the recently departed.

The Tzutujil Maya Corn of Birth and Death growing in the East field

The Tzutujil Maya Corn of Birth and Death growing in the East field

For me personally, Concha has been a vegetal midwife into a kind of rebirth of my own. The process of planting and replanting her, and of learning to love her as a wise and mysterious being in her own right, has helped me to move from a lifetime of anxiety and depression into a life increasingly filled with friendship, peace, and connection here near Occidental.

I received these seeds from Martín while attending Bolad's Kitchen, his school in New Mexico. One morning as I was sharing the story of these remarkable seeds with David, he kindly offered to set aside some space for her to grow at Green Valley. She is now happily nestled close to the life-giving driplines, getting to know her new neighbors: the beautiful Painted Mountain corn which you all have been so carefully saving.

When Martín placed them in my hands and the hands of my fellow students, he instructed us that we were to grow them only to feed our families. Over the past months, I've come to see David, Kayta, Anna, and all of you - even those of you I haven't yet met - as family. After all, we now share many of the same relatives: the radishes, peppers, berries, lettuce (and occasional dirt clod) of Green Valley!

And so, I pray that Concha's most recent incarnation grows healthy and hearty, so that I might grind some of her seeds into delicious flour which I can share with all of you, my new family, and that you may all be woven into the fabric of her story!

In the meantime, I hope that you might visit her and welcome her from your heart in your own way, with a word or a song or simply a tender glance. (I know that she particularly likes songs!)

When Martín placed these seeds in my hands and the hands of my fellow students, he instructed us that they were to be grown only to feed our families -- never to be bought, sold, or traded, and not to be gifted as seeds until we understand them better. It is said that if these agreements are not upheld, Concha will cease to grow for us or for anyone! And so, I also humbly ask for your assistance in keeping these precious seeds sacred.

I hope that the spirit of this ancient corn may guide us all into a deeper experience of the communion and reciprocity which is possible with the generous and mysteriously wise plants who give their lives so that we may live, who remind our bodies how to laugh and cry and dance and sing, and with whom we are so deeply interdependent.

Thank you all for being in my life, and for all together supporting this beautiful farm and its stewards to jump up and live!!

Long life, honey in the heart,

No misfortune, thirteen thank-yous!


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This farm is community supported... and so is the Farmer's Log! If you ever have a story or thought to share in the Farmer's Log send them our way!

See you in the fields,

David & Kayta