February 2nd marked the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox, a holy day known as Candlemas, or Imbolc, and in many traditions is considered the beginning of spring.
Strangely, in Boulder it was nearly 70 degrees and we spent the morning sowing seeds. These photos don't really speak to the felt sense of the heat and dryness on the land, and how strange it felt to have workable soil in early February. Maybe everything is changing, what we once knew to be reliable season is no longer so reliable, and we must learn to bend and sway with the now unstable climate. We relished opportunity to say a blessing on the fava and poppy seeds, whose wisdom to grow and change with what comes each season inspires our own growth.
The warm soil allowed us to move Solidego to her new home, where the tall stalks will be happy next to the duck pond and bog filter. Earth worms joined in the celebration, curiously exploring warm surface soils.
The quickening of energy has been potent for our farm team this winter, as we have been working long, dedicated hours towards bringing the ultimate dream of Dharma's Garden to life. For the last five years, we have been leasing this land from a family who has lived and cared for this place for generations, and we are now presented with the opportunity to secure this land as an educational homestead project for generations to come! Many opportunities await as we work to actualize this goal.
Digging through the archives at the Carnegie Library has uncovered some very interesting information, including the history of subdivision in this north Boulder area. Of course, there was once a time where these lands were vast, un-fenced, wild and free. Enormous herds of grazing animals traveled, moving with the waters and good grass. Then, parcels of 160 acres were allotted to settlers during the years following the Homestead Act. These photos are from the public archives from the turn of the century, offering a beautiful sense of what these lands were like following the settlers arrival. We know from speaking with family members of this land that sheep were also grazed at one time! It is remarkable to think of how quickly what was once vast open prairie was subdivided, until now all that remains is this 5-acre parcel.
What has become clear through our process is the importance of providing the agricultural and nature-based connection WITHIN the city, rather than pushing farms further and further away from where we live. Just as people once gathered together in festival and celebration around the activity of the season, where perhaps on Imbolc/Candlemas the seeds were blessed and some may have been sown, we continue to do so right here on this land in the heart of the city.
Of course, so many wonderings arise when considering the historical relationship between humans and the land. Who lived here before the miners and farmers came west? What food crops have sustained people on these lands? What were the relations between land and people when there was not such separation? How to we honour our history and also dream into the future? Now, more than ever, how can we cultivate connection and belonging to place, when life feels more digital and impersonal than ever before?
For me, Dharma's Garden is a sanctuary of sanity and hope within what feels so often like madness all around. My hands in the dirt, surrounded by people I have grown to love as much as the flow of the seasons themselves, drives the passion and vision to protect this magical land forever. Our shared love sustains our quickening, which is perhaps the true source of vitality within each seed before they swell, burst, and transform into a new sprout. We are capable of such beauty and goodness when we are motivated by love and a shared dream.