If you have been following us on our Facebook page you might have gathered that we the Alliance Garden have been participating in something called Farm Week. Farm Week is a week in which all of the interns and managers eat nothing that cannot be found growing or raised in our garden. This is an incredibly difficult challenge because not only does it knock out most meat and fruits, but all dairy and grains as well! No coffee, sugar, salt. We were confronted with how we were to prepare our food and ration our food.
Our one cheat for the week was that we were allowed to come up with a menu item that used products found in our garden (not exclusively however) and then post the recipe to our facebook page. On Wednesday Grace had us over to her house to learn to make many dishes and they were amazing. We also had a pickling and apple butter making class with Robert Sharp and we made cucumbers, beets, okra, and beans into hot, sweet, and sour pickles. Note for the spicy pickles. They caused everyone to cough violently and may not be the best choice for the future.
The big day of the week was the chicken killing and processing day. One of our chickens, Bojangles, has not been laying eggs since we have gotten her. She has been sickly and could not grow back feathers from where the other chickens would peck at her. We quit feeding her the day before so that she would be free from food as we processed her. This was my and many of the interns first time doing this. As the leader I volunteered to do the hardest part which was to kill the chicken. The idea is to put the chicken into a killing cone upside down (a cut in half bleach container) and cut the artery in the neck right below the beak. This allows for the chicken to go unconscious and for the heart to keep pumping blood out. This is not a bad way to go at all. However, The knife was not all that sharp and I had to continue to try and cut the neck. After this was done I was very woozy and thought i would get sick. I hadn't eaten that morning which did not help. After that however it was very interesting. We put the chicken in hot water then cold water to make the feathers easy to take off. We broke the feet off by the Achilles and did not need to cut them off. We took the gall bladder out to see what was inside. A gall bladder is what a chicken has instead of a stomach. They swallow pebbles to grind the food they swallow. We saw eggs forming, the messed up liver which was why it was sick, it was like science class without the stench of formaldehyde. We then cooked it and ate it. As it was a egg laying chicken not a meat chicken in was not very tender but still good.
This week opened the eyes of many of us. People live like this everyday. They do not have a choice of where they get there food. They have a garden or farm and the eat and make their living from it. If something goes wrong it is a big deal. They have to can to stay alive during winter. They have to kill all the meat they eat it does not come in a patty. We are truly blessed to not have to worry about this but at the same time we are hampered because we lose connection to the living world around us. I planted the cucumbers I ate this week from seed. I know where it came from. The girls picked the eggs every morning. I know them and their character. I probably won't ever meet the people who prepared, grew, shipped my Olive Garden lunch I will have with my wife tomorrow. Is it wrong? I do not think so but I do think it needs to be something everyone wrestles with. Extremes on either end of a spectrum are hard to sustain.
The last thing that hit us this week was in our giving. We give our produce to Victory Acres, the community gardens of Marion, and St. Martin's. We are told by God to give Him the first fruit of our labor. That could be our time, money, resources, and in our case our literal first and best produce. I do not think we did a good job of that. I think we got away from the idea for a moment that our well being was of greater importance then those we are called to serve. We will be giving still great quantities of great food but I think we just slipped a bit on this.
Notes: Please try the recipes we shared online they are awesome.
Ask us about what we learned and how it impacted us spiritually. Many of our interns really articulate what is going on in their souls well. It has been a great year.
I am gone on vacation this week and Hannah will again be writing the blog. Please read she is so good!
We are starting our official IWU student center produce stand. It will be open 11 to 1 on Thursdays until October. Please stop by!