My gardening hoe is as shiny as a baby’s bottom. Two weeks shiny, that is. However, I can loosely summarize farming in four words: We are eating shit. Doo doo. Caca. Poo Poo. This essentially applies to those of us eating organic produce; fruits and veggies grown without the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other synthetic chemicals. We eat it then it comes out of us then we use it to grow more food. A cyclical process. Naturally perfect.
In theory, I’ve known this for most of my life but to actually touch the cow’s poo mixed with compost made it personal. This revelation transpired the first day on the farm in Seabra (the sozinha one), we were planting cilantro seeds combined with sand then taking handfuls of very dark, moist dirt and putting it on top of the seeds. While holding the dirt-like substance in my naked hand, I asked one of the guys, Que isso? (What is this?)
To be like the other workers, I chose to use my bare hands; cramming the dainty gardening gloves I’d bought in my old Brooklyn neighborhood in my back pocket.
The older gentleman, who has been farming since he left school at the age of fifteen, stood upright then responded looking me in the eyes, “Adubo … from the cow. It’s coco and compost mixed together.”
Coco is the Portuguese word for shit, poo or doo doo . So cute, right?
I contemplated retrieving my gloves yet had felt a certain pride while sporting my poo-covered hands. I’m really farming.
With every adubo toss, I thought to myself … Yea, this is another reason why what we all eat is extremely important. If “farmers” feed their animals garbage like genetically engineered soy, where does that leave us and our food supply?
Quality poo is what we need.
That day I worked for four hours — from 7 to 11am. The following morning, I felt as though my back would break in three neat pieces. Regardless of the pain, it was super rewarding to pull a bunch of carrots from the ground and then eat them for dinner that same night.
The farm in Seabra grows: mangos, papaya, piña, bananas, limes, urucum, cherry tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, various lettuces, fresh herbs, exotic plants, and more. I primarily worked with the fresh herbs and cherry tomatoes. The mornings were cool in temperature until about ten or eleven when it would rapidly become “Arizona” hot. All in all it was a great start to my farming career.
I was reminded of these 4 things:
1. the more worms and insects in soil, the better quality of soil
2. weeds will grow more rapidly in soil that is healthy so stay on top of it
3. you want produce that looks dirty, it most often means there was less tampering with it
4. healthy earth (soil) equals healthy mind, body and spirit
Much appreciation and respect to our ancestors who worked from sun up to sun down, planting seeds, harvesting crops, pulling weeds, cleaning, nursing, sewing, surviving while being brutalized in the process.
And every time I meet a new farmer, I plan to give them a hug and say THANK YOU from all of us who eat.
And no, I haven’t seen any Coco Puffs in the supermarket here. Get it? Hmmm. I’m corny at times, I know.
NOTE to MY MOM: Speaking other languages has taught me to let go of definitions and word associations. I’m cursing in Portuguese all of the time and I love it. Most times I have no clue what I’m saying but it’s fun and it makes people laugh. Don’t worry, you raised me right and besides it’s only a word. Shit. Doggit!
With love and gratitude for this incredible experience.
I’m in Itacare now – the south of Bahia. Another gorgeous nook in this beautiful world of ours.
Beijos / K*