By Margaretha Haughwout, June 19, 2010
Coming to one’s senses with the breakfast club
Jay asked me to write the blurb for the breakfast club, at which point I had to ask him what the breakfast club was. He said the breakfast club is a riff on farmers who rise to do the necessary daily chores before they have breakfast, but since we’re in an urban setting, and since we might not do the chores before breakfast, we are sort of like those eighties slackers who found transformation sitting in Saturday detention.
What made the breakfast club the breakfast club was the fact that they were in trouble. I was in some trouble when I started watering this spring as well. It was a vague kind of trouble, a knowing that life didn’t have to be so hard. The teenager in me was rebelling against a life that was expected of me, but which I did not want to live. When it turned out that Emilio—I mean, Rob Joyce—was going away for a while and wouldn’t be able to water, I found myself in detention, I mean on the farm. I hope that some day all detentions can be focused on the careful offering of water to young things.
I attribute it to the calm of being surrounded by leaves rustling in the breeze, the feeling of cool water, and the smell of mulch that comes with spending several hours on the farm every day. The sounds of the city are buffered by the wind and all those non-human living things. Also, one can hear children become elated and exclaim about “the farm” as they are wheeled by. Suddenly I am very conscious of not getting water on the man who sleeps on the sidewalk below the favas, whose home orbits Hayes Valley Farm.
For the past couple of months, Ally I mean Jenn, Rob and I have been doing the watering. There is a lot to care for and water these days. There are the seedlings of brassica, mustard, lettuce, tomato, marigold, beans, tree kale, there are the grafted fruit and nut trees of the freeway food forest, the berms on the on and off ramps that boast nitrogen fixing fava beans and new zealand red clover, the shade garden…. There are other members of the breakfast club too: Judd keeps planting more seeds and raising the seedlings with the “Show Me Your Starts” crew, and there’s a bunch of others who have helped turn the compost, plant seedlings, scatter rock dust, and clean up the site.
Karl Marx, in his critique of capitalism said that people want to work, but capitalism robs that natural desire in people because work is abstracted from the true meaning that emerges from an orientation of sustainable bioregional production. I’d like to think that this breakfast club consists of anyone who has ever avoided certain work and in the process found crazy beautiful meaning in the simplest of tasks. Gets one to wonder who is caring for who. Is it breakfast clubbers that care for the seemingly fragile green things, or them for us.
Photo by Zoey Kroll, June 6, 2010