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

1 comment:

  1. it's so great to hear about your story!! :) it makes me really happy to see how you are starting a totally new life, leaping into the new with what you learned at ARI and i can see how happy the two of you are. I'd love to visit you someday on your little farm!! :)