Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wheat Have We Been Up To?

Jenny and I are spinning around in the in-between space you enter when you leave behind a big project and start a new one. I say we are spinning because we are being kept busy with projects involving both of them. We have been speaking to churches, elementary schools, and college classrooms about our year at the Asian Rural Institute. We have been writing our final reports for the Young Adult Service Corps. We are also preparing to go to New York at the end of this week for the official debriefing.

We are also extremely busy starting our new projects here in Arkansas. We have slowly but surely been moving into our housing at Camp Mitchell. Jenny and I drove to Columbia, Missouri to trade in our Subaru for a farm truck. We have been kick-starting our college ministry at St. Peter’s in Conway. And even though we haven’t done much to prepare the soil or farm infrastructure, we could not help but try to get in on the fall planting season.

In the precious few days that Jenny and I have spent here at Camp Mitchell so far, we have filled a bed with seeds of fall veggies like radish, turnip, collards, and cabbage. For some seeds like kale and onions. We made a soil block, ARI style! Our potting soil is a little bit hard. Sadly we have not found any rice husk or a substitute yet, but we have built a chimney which we’ll be using to make rice husk charcoal as soon as we find a source for it. We also discovered that they are called rice “hulls” in the US.

Luckily though, we were able to reach out into our local community for some help getting our fertilizers going. Kathleen and her family at Cedar Springs Stables helped us collect the manure from their chicken coops and rabbit pen.

To start an interesting experiment that will peak people’s interest in our farming project and tell them that we are serious, we decided to plant some wheat! We picked a plot (~2000 sq.ft.) and asked our friend Nathanael to help us till it up. Nathanael works with the farming project at Pulaski Heights Middle School.

Nathanael and me, posing in front of the farm truck.
Jenny actually getting work done.
This weekend Camp Mitchell hosted the annual Arkansas Youth Event. Many youth groups in the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas come to stay the weekend together at Camp Mitchell. We had one hundred 6th through 12th graders here. Jenny and I organized a session where everyone got to help sow the wheat. We prayed over our work using a prayer for agriculture that we found the in back of the Book of Common Prayer.

Doing agricultural work helps to keep us connected to our beloved family at ARI. When my hands are in the dirt, weeding, sowing, or harvesting, I know that someone at ARI has been busy this day with a similar task. They actually just harvested rice!

Now our goal is to keep it moist enough to germinate. Then negotiations with the deer begin!
So this week our goal is to finish our work with the Young Adult Service Corps and return safely from New York City. Hopefully that will be the last airplane that I ride in for a long time. I am thankful for but tired of airports.

Then, starting mid-October, we will be staying at Camp Mitchell full time. By the first week of November we hope to have solid draft of the Master Plan for the Camp Mitchell Agricultural Project. Farm Shop, Chicken House, Compost Toilet, Fish pond, Onion Patch, and Foodlife eternal—Here we come!

Peace of the lord be with you,

Doug and Jenny Knight

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September News

September is a big deal right now. For one, it means we left ARI almost one month ago. I dream about it often. Just last night I had a dream that Doug was going back to Japan for business purposes or something and my sister also had business in Japan. So I said, well I need to go too! And the next moment I was walking around dream ARI (which was nothing like real ARI, except all the people that I miss were there). I hugged people like I hadn't seen them in years. 

September is also now synonymous with wedding anniversary. In 23 days, Doug and I will have been a legal entity for 2 years. While statuses have their advantages, we know what's more important is all the love: from above and around and within all things. I know we say "thank you" in probably every blog post, but here it is again, because one can never say it enough. 

THANK YOU for everything. For raising Doug and I, for introducing us to each other, inquiring about our relationship developments, challenging us, supporting us, being 2nd/3rd/4th mamas and daddies to us, for FEEDING us literally and spiritually, thank you for marrying us, camping with us, for hiring or not hiring us, working with us, for farming and eating and living it all with us. We are truly in love and in life together and we couldn't be here and be this happy without all your love and your life.

In addition to celebrating our 2nd cotton-filled anniversary, Doug and I will also be traveling to New York for the YASC re-entry retreat. This will be an event for all the YASC missionaries who finished their missionary service this year to reunite and discuss and debrief their experiences together. We are very much looking forward to seeing all of our friends with whom we started this journey over a year and a half ago. All of their blog posts have been listed on the right hand side of our blog page all year, maybe you've been reading what they've been up to. If you're interested in learning about other kinds of work in the YASC program, check them out!

Ok, so now for some updates: We're famous! Doug and I were walking around the University of Central Arkansas (our alma mater) putting up these flyers for St. Peter's college ministries, and then we found ourselves on the tv!

In other news, we've been doing some research for the big farming project. We've visited a couple of different stores and farm co-ops to do some pricing and planning. We have also already picked up some seeds from the new Faulkner County Seed Library! It was so simple. The seeds are sorted by plant and variety in a file cabinet. We just collected a few seeds from each that we wanted, recorded them, and went on our way! The seed library is operating with the expectation that users will try their best to save seeds to bring back and replace what they took! 

Since our last post, we have shared our experiences at ARI with St. Peter's Episcopal Church and also with the Episcopal Collegiate Lower School during their chapel time. Coming up, we will be talking with Jane Harris' Religion and Food class (September 11) and visiting St. Mark's, Jonesboro (September 15). We head to New York the end of September. Oh! We have also been invited to the Faith, Farm, and Food Event in Sewanee the end of October. We are really excited about this opportunity to meet with other folks involved in this kind of ministry!

We will continue to update you guys via this blog. Once we officially get going at Camp Mitchell we may also provide farm specific updates via their website. Until then, stayed tuned in here!

Love from Arkansas,

Doug and Jenny