by Qayyum Johnson, Head of Farm, Green Gulch Farm
Green Gulch Farm celebrated its annual Seed Sowing Ceremony on February 27th with a plein-air ceremony at the mouth of the sowing shed on the farm. Reverend Fu Shroeder presided before an altar dedicated to seeds, and outgoing tenzo Gyokuden Steph Wenderski sounded the inken which led the procession in the fresh air of morning.
After words of joy and wonder offered by Fu, chanting of the Heart Sutra continued while each person helped begin the first large field sowing of the year of the Water Snake by approaching the altar and planting a red chard seed into one of the 200 cells of the transplant trays. These seeds have already emerged from the potting soil and will be the first planted in the long rows of summer!
As head of farm, I shared a poem of the season:
The whole earth is a seed
the big bang was a seed (& will be again)
death is a special seed pack
holding the seeds of yet-to-be-told stories.
Seeds are not reality
they are a bodhisattva promise of what could be.
They are a potential that relies on beneficial activity & good circumstance to come into being.
They are born from a perfect balance of fine things:pure water, warm light, mineral’d air, life-filled soil & the transformational blanket of cosmic darkness.
The beautiful dedication of our ceremony–concluding with the line, “May we labor in love”–was read by the farm’s living heart and longest serving farmer, Emila Heller.
2013 has been one of the driest years on record in this part of California. Climate change is our new reality. The strange thing is that the days have been undeniably beautiful. High blue skies and warm days have graced us as the Practice Period students sit and work, taking the backward step. Much of the cover crop is still greening the fields, but the hand-worked kitchen garden has already offered a harvest of baby lettuce and bok choy, radishes, turnips and scallions aren’t far behind. Asparagus shoots are growing tall from beneath their winter mulch.
We are incredibly blessed. There is the possibility of receiving the world as a buddhafield that is revealed around us. The first paramita of generosity means that each situation presented to us has the potential to teach. What does the bright orange flower sun tell us?
More news from Green Gulch: Life here is very busy–there is so much good happening! Reverend Thiemo Blank, the head of maintenance, oversaw the pouring of a new colored concrete floor for the kitchen. The old floor had gotten treacherous with rot. The whole community—including guests and conference attendees—rolled along with the complex, month-long project that allowed for new paint, tiles and floor drains to be installed.
The heroic guest program continues to tirelessly host group after group, each guest presented with entrée to our practice center. For the annual Arbor Day celebration, Sukey Parmelee generously embraced the sangha. In honor of the natural world that sustains us, many good people planted native plants, removed invasive ivy and spent a gorgeous afternoon tending this blessed watershed.
There have been staffing changes as well. Sara Tashker has become Director, Reverend Sonja Gardenswartz now heads up the vitally important kitchen practice of nourishment. Diana Gerard has returned to lead the front office and Reverend Anna Thorn has accepted the challenging position of Guest Program Manager. She oversees the complex schedule of guests, rooms, meals, and works with Reverend Shokuchi Carrigan to minister to our many conference spaces. Treasurer Reverend Bryan Clark remains our treasured number cruncher.
In other news, Abiding Abbess Eijun Cutts traveled to Rome, Italy, to teach, and a venerable treeline of black cottonwoods originally collected from the mouth of the Klamath River by Harry Roberts and planted in 1979 was removed to allow more light to fall onto the agricultural field. Reverend Carolyn Cavanaugh’s impeccable service as Ino is exemplary of commitment as she conducts the demanding orchestration of zendo practice. Wonderful Mick Sopko’s unsurpassable organic bread continues to sustain beings in the ten directions and Garden Manager Lauren Bouyea and her crew have finished the winter pruning of all the fruit trees. Bulbs are bursting every day.
There is so much more. Wonderful interested practitioners come as guests or as guest students, many stay on as work-practice apprentices and then participate in practice periods. Well-being and funeral ceremonies, Suzuki Roshi Memorials every 3rd and 4th of the month, bodhisattva commitment ceremonies, classes, study groups, crew check-ins, monthly full moon precept ceremonies, one-day sesshins and the cleansing action of life lived in intimate community. All who spend time here appear to be benefited in diverse, mysterious ways.
The dandelion moon of daily life is born of appreciation. Coming home to the moment in which you find yourself. Light, color, sensation. Upright with every arising phenomenon, each unrepeatable construction of consciousness.
Whoever reads this is invited to appreciate the shared good fortune of our life of practice. Please come visit anytime. Have a seat, have a cup of tea. Whoever reads this is deeply thanked. Thank you for being a part of this world system. Happy spring to you all.