Justin Torrico:

Growing up in the Smallest town in Massachusetts, surrounded by Farmland, farming was the last thing I ever thought I would be doing.  Hard physical labor was something I thought and was constantly told I was not cut out for but I was wrong.  My interest in farming began during my post-high school year in the Southwest of France.  Their food is life and not just something to be consumed, as it is so often in the U.S. There the culture is the food and the food is the culture if you follow. Back in the U.S., I enrolled at Pitzer College, in Claremont, CA  where I studied Politics.  Through my studies on global power structures (political, economic, social, etc. ) I was awakened to the historical injustice that plays itself out in our global social and political landscape. At the heart of the injustice is the corruption of what it means to be human. The elements, earth, water, air, and the sun from which all life is formed should never be trivialized or commodified without a loss of what it means to be human, a loss of our physical and spiritual connection to nature.  Briefly put, when we no longer value our land we do not value the humans that walk on it.  Our current international food system clearly exemplifies what a world lacking humanity looks like;  That is a world where around 1 billion people are in constant threat of starvation, while 1 billion are obese fed by a system bent on making as much money off our food as possible.

When I examined how we as a people got to where we are, I began to believe that we had forgotten or rather were loath to recognize how we got here.  That at some point in the pursuit of ever greater wealth we as people have begun to forget what we actually need, food, water, shelter, sun, love.  This amnesia can be seen at every level of society as we collectively work to destroy our basic means of survival.  I decided that I would live my life differently, making a concious effort to learn how to work with the land and not against it.  Going to a private college, in Los Angeles, this seemed almost an impossible task but slowly I began to find the resources, discover my own ancestral skills, and began to see a more basic life as a reality.  In the Spring of 2009, I travelled to Nepal, where I stsudied language and culture for a semester.  In Nepal, I was bombarded by intrinisic knowledge, that taught one from an early age how to live harnmoniously with the environment.  This is a knowledge I believe has largely been lost in the U.S., as so many people have made the transition to city life/mass media consumption which replaces intrinisic knowledge with momentary cultural phenomenon.  In the mountain villages I learned ways of subsistence that I strive to practice here int he U.S.   Here, where we consume more than anywhere else, I have become a farmer striving to rebuild the work of those who came before us and help create a world where we work with our natural environment, not against it.  My work is to help grow, recreate, and/or create indigenous subsistence culture in our industrial capitalist state.

Mael Raoult:

I never imagined myself farming, though I am sure that it would neither surprise nor upset my childhood self, whose aspirations consisted of roaming the old forests of Upstate New York, and catching crabs on the seashores of France, the strands of sand and rock refuge to the memories of my ancestors.
On the grounds of these places I grew my roots and fell in love with nature, critical thinking, music, the nature of words, the thoughts they string, and the chorus of voices they evoke. My passions led me through school to Pitzer College where I studied linguistics and foreign languages, including French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Quichua, and Nahautl, the latter two of which are the descendant languages of the Incan and Aztec Empires. Most importantly, I travelled to Ecuador in the Spring of 2009, and Morocco in the Fall of 2010.  I experienced for the first time a truly rural life on a daily basis, the beauty of a self-productive lifestyle, and the many ways in which the oppressive ideologies of hegemonic culture impose standards and moral paradigms that both unwittingly and consciously impede such lifestyles.
Greedy, power-hungry, and proselytizing nations have sculpted false global notions of success, value, beauty, development, and practical knowledge to a point where indigenous communities, traditions, and ancestry have been systematically eradicated from the platforms of mainstream thought. In turn, we have lost our responsibility for and connection with the land, replaced by a newfound responsibility to exponentially ravage and consume essentially every resource necessary for our survival, as well as the deceivingly endless supply of their modern byproducts. The steady resource binges since the industrial revolution have been concentrated, fueled by what I consider to be the misdirected ambition of the richest nations with the widest industrial wingspans. This machine with which we have replaced the metaphors of nature has created and perpetuated an unequal distribution of wealth and its “bounties,” and human rights catastrophes on a global scale, including but certainly not limited to the privatization of water, the patenting of organic life forms for profit in a monopolized food economy, and the constant offshore balancing and international juggling acts necessary in order to entertain the presence of such abuses. Worst of all, we have been convinced that these travesties simply constitute a facet of our much abstracted notions of human nature, or that no solutions exist save those that lean upon the wobbly crutch of technological innovation. We share a drive to acquire what we need to survive, but that point we have surpassed. Now, as Rob Hopkins puts it in his book the “Transition Movement,” “humanity faces maybe the greatest creative challenge it has ever seen.” I intend to rise to the challenge: to found a common ground solid enough to support the weight of change.
Farming is my instrument of choice for social and environmental change, but a holistic fusion of my passions. It is the newly laid foundation of my moral thought and the gateway to my road to a true reconnection with which many of us have lost, the bare essentials of life. My life as a farmer is a quest for a sustainable scale of practical skills that I believe should redefine our standards of living. I want to grow my own food, grow others food, cook food, share food, exchange crafts, and encourage the conformation of human life according to the patterns and within the limits of nature in order to  create a community that nurtures an organic unity in which the whole is greater than the sum of all its parts. The responsibility for space, philosophy, technology, and the maximal fulfillment of the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of all beings must be shared. My life as a farmer is a declaration of my responsibility to the earth and all its beings and natural processes that provide the food, water, air, shelter, and capacity to love through which we sustain our being.

Tashiana Colston:

A black wombyn farming. Sankofa can mean either the word in the Akan language of Ghana that translates in English to “go back and take” (Sanko- go back, fa- take) or the Asante Adinkra symbol. It is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” As a black wombyn farming how can I not implement the sankofa concept in my life; I am choosing it as a life philosophy… I am learning from our ancestors and from some of the mistakes that have been made… I learn not to control the earth but work with the earth, using natural methods that some of our ancestors used to work with the patterns of the earth and combining them with new technologies that are in line with an ethos of interconnectedness that respects the earth. I am seeking a spiritual, ancestral and African derived consciousness for my own creativity. i believe everyone has the basic human right to healthy and nutritious food and we all need to be a part of cultivating the food we consume. I recognize that the current reality of our world’s food systems are steeped in white-supremacist, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal ideologies and structures that affect everyone but disproportionately hurt marginalized communities (i.e. women, people of color). Through CCF I seek to create and (re)imagine a transformative food justice system that serves as an example of an alternative pro-human ideology, addresses the effects of oppression, thereby dismantling structures of oppression through our own positive creativity .

“we can’t free ourselves until we can feed ourselves.” -the national black farmers mantra

follow tashiana at sankofa-soul-farmer.tumblr.com

Jeramy vallianos returned a year ago to western Massachusetts, the land that he was born and raised in, to continue work in education and agriculture.  He has spent much of the past 6 years working in experiential education and has increasingly focused on farming in his work over the last 3 years.  Jeramy has worked as an educator in national and international service/adventure programs, a wilderness therapy school, public schools, and youth non-profit programs.  He has farmed with Sauvie Island Organics of Portland, OR and la Granja Valle Pintado of Patagonia, Argentina and has also been involved with a number of community-level agriculture projects.  Along with his work with CCF he currently teaches ecology and agriculture with Flying Cloud Institute.

Statement:

I began to focus more and more in agriculture and permaculture work in recent years for a number of reasons.  Perhaps most importantly, as a way to further connect, learn, and teach in the rhythms and processes of the planet.  To work toward gaining the skills necessary to grow food, build, wild harvest, and to live in community with place and people.  Industrial culture is quickly dismantling the systems of life that sustain us, networks of climate, water, land, animal, plant, and microbial communities.  The food that we eat is a huge point of contact in our relationship with the world.  I see it as inevitable that the way of life that we know now is destined to radically change, the planet simply will not stand for it any longer, we are reaching its physical limitations and exhausting them.  Responsible farming practices and developing systems that work within the processes of each land base will be critical in transitioning through the collapse of this industrial reality.  I farm to learn how to live with the earth, to help and teach others in this, and to work toward a regional sustainability based on the capacities and characteristics of each area.

Alex Freedman

A. Freed Man is a liver of many lifetimes. He has been called by many names, and has appeared in many disguises: Freed Man the Neuroscientist, Freed Man the Thinker, Freed Man the Scribe, Freed Man the Sadhak, Freed Man the Yogi, Freed Man the Friend and Brother, Freed Man the Freed Man; he is all of these things, but he is none of these things. In the depths of his heart, he is only and completely endless love and endless light.

Freed Man the Farmer is a lover of the free-hearted, infinitely generous Mother Earth, and a seeker of that unconditional generosity in himself and in all human beings. From our relationship with Nature, the perfect relationship of reciprocal giving and receptivity, we can receive all of our nourishment – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – all of our inspiration, all of our entertainment, all of our support, all of our raw materials. We only need to rediscover, re-value, and spread the precious ancient knowledge of our ancestors that lived in harmony of the land, which will always be free.

Freed Man returns to his homeland of the US and home-state of MA after spending 6 months in India, studying Life at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, and living/working there on an experimental Minimum-External-Input Natural Organic farm in the vein of Subash Palekar (Zero-Budget Spiritual Farming) and Deepak Suchde (Natueco Science), combining modern advancements in the understanding of Modern Earth with ancient/timeless indigenous sustainable farming techniques. But Mother Earth has no ethnicity, and She is Everywhere, and so Freed Man returned to the US to continue his journey of experiential learning – it is a great joy for him to join the inspired and inspiring efforts of the clear-sighted, far-thinking, deep-feeling, open-hearted community of CCF. It is local communities like this one that will galvanize our efforts towards sustainable, healthy, happy, fulfilled living.

In Freed Man’s heart, he feels that the US is the leading power of the modern world, the “big kid” on the playground, and everyone is looking at us. This is a great and serious responsibility for us: if we can re-form ourselves into the force of Truth, Love, and Righteousness that we all feel and know in the wordless depths of our hearts, the momentum of the world must, and will, change direction. But that shift must begin with each individual – until we ourselves are One with that presence of Truth inside of us, we cannot create that Oneness outside of us. It is time to step forward and shape the world not as we want it as individuals, but as Mother Earth herself wants it, which is to have all beings of all shapes and sizes living together in harmony, unified and strengthened in their diversity and interdependence, in the infinite and unbreakable web of life.

Sink your Hands

         Into the earth

Bury your Fears

         Into the Earth

Open your Heart

         Into the Earth

See what Grows

         Up from the Earth

Always Infinite Love and Blessings – Namaskar.

Jasper Kosokoff

When a community roots itself in an ecologically harmonious experience of food-water-land how will that community manifest and grow?  My name is Jasper Kosokoff. I am a student currently learning how to farm and sustainably grow community. I grew up in Portland Oregon, and after attending 4 different academic institutions across the US I recently earned a BA in Gender and Community Studies. I am a practicing visual artist and a facilitator of skills and knowledge.

Vince Cruz

“The idea that we live in something called ‘the environment’ is utterly preposterous. . . . The world that environs us, that is around us, is also within us. We are made of it; we eat, drink, and breathe it; it is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.”
Wendell Berry.

“A San Francisco native, and student Herbalist, I have happily entered the Berkshires with the full intention of dissolving the barriers between the community and the environment. I believe, we as a society, have become disconnected from the food and medicine the earth readily provides, and are now far too dependant on unsustainable practices. I view Community Cooperative Farms as a tangible step towards a new way of living, and an opportunity for many to reconnect.
My main focus in the Berkshires is to provide locally grown and wild-crafted plant medicine, and to create a space for any who wish to receive education. Through recruitment of volunteers, and a use of the native species, I hope to achieve my goal of facilitating free herbal education and also medicine at a more affordable price. Too often people in need, are denied their given right to quality food and natural medicine for cost sake. I am an idealist. I believe in reclaiming our personal power, through the lessons in resourcefulness and abundance that come with a connection to the land. We are all students and teachers and each of us holds the power to enrich our own lives. By choosing to learn how to grow our own food, and make our own medicine, and by our willingness to share information, we build a stronger society. CCF is fast becoming a team of enthusiatsic individuals, set on restructuring the way we relate to the land and to each other. I am blessed to be among those I can both learn from, and with whom I share a vision.”

Vincent Cruz has studied herbalism, wild-crafting, and medicine-making for the past two years. A recent student at the California School of Herbal Studies, he is now working towards an internship in London at an Herbal Clinic.

 

Zedoc Jasteram

A young man recently started working as a timberframer at CCF.  His name is Zadoc Jastram.  He worked off and on as an excavator for the last few years, doing everything from digging around gas lines with a shovel, to operating a 20-ton Cat excavator.  This significantly piqued his interest in construction, but at the same time, he was dishearted by the generic mass-production of most house construction in the area where he worked.  This was quite a frustrating conflict.

In the spring of 2010, he got an unexpected recommendation from a friend to investigate Yestermorrow Natural Design/Build School in Vermont.  Immediately enthralled, he soon drove up to visit the school in person, and shortlythereafter signed up for the school’s summer-long Natural Building Intensive.  In those three months, he gained a considerable hands-on education in building design, permaculture, timberframing, general carpentry, straw bale wall systems, rough and finish plasters, and clay paints.  The end product of the class was a two-story, 27×34 super-insulated, extremely hypo-allergenic house, displaying perfection in combining a timberframe substructure with plastered straw bale walls.

Likely appealing to his occasionally frustrating sense of perfection, timberframing fascinated this curious man the most.  He thoughtfully left the class and engaged in a brief spurt of travel in the fall, and hunkered down plowing snow for the winter.  Then in the spring, he heard from one of his classmates of a little farm in Western Massachusetts that had need of a timberframer.  Naturally, his interest was again piqued, and after a brief visit, he decided to join up and provide his timberframing and bread-baking skills to the small farming community.  This seemed an especially fantastic opportunity, because not only would he be doing work he loves, but he’d be doing it for a purpose he could truly get his heart behind.

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