It’s only been a few days since I’ve come back from spring break in Los Angeles, California. I went on Alternative Spring Break through UVM and I flew with a group of eight other students to volunteer on local organic farms. It was the most amazing experience! Sunny skies and beautiful farms for nine days was a nice change from the two feet of snow in Burlington. I learned a lot from the trip, like how to appreciate hard work and striving to reach a common goal with strangers. All of the farmers are so passionate about what they do and they were all working hard to make organic fruits and vegetables more affordable for everyone. They also strove to educate children and other students about the importance of knowing where your food comes from and what you’re actually eating. My group was awesome, everyone got along, laughed every moment and worked hard together.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was working on the first garden. There were all sorts of mosaics and art work produced from the children and volunteers who came to the garden. Every aspect of Proyecto Jardin was intimate, and decorated in some way by every person who has been there. In the morning our group circled around to gather ourselves and calm our minds. The garden’s owner Irene’s son, Kinec burned a medicine and placed it in the center for everyone to breathe in. The aroma therapy was very calming and as the smoke rose Irene had us face North, East, South and West. As we closed our eyes she gently spoke about each direction and its importance in life. The North was wisdom and growing up, the South was our childhood, the East was masculinity and the beginning of the day and finally the West was femininity and the end of the day. Everyone was invited to share how we felt and many people said beautiful, insightful things. By the end of the ceremony everyone felt relaxed and connected to one another. I never realized how badly I needed to slow down, how much I had to calm my mind. I felt great afterward, just taking a moment to breathe was all it took.
Alternative Spring Break is an amazing program and I highly recommend it. It changed the way I thought about food and farmers. I have to say being out there everyday makes me want to go into farming myself, can a classics major have a green thumb? I sure hope so.