Sunday, May 26, 2019

cooking a pot of beans with dragons at the SAIPUA SCHOOL

Beans we grew and dried last fall. Scarlet Runner, Navy, and Purple Cow Peas. 
You wouldn't know this, but I'm excellent at impersonating Komodo Dragons, the largest lizards in the world. I started doing this to show my feelings to people I loved. Because feelings can be confusing. And dangerous. Reptilian.

Komodo's move sluggishly collapsing into each step. Fervently and silently they sample the air with their split lizard tongues, tracking prey by scent. Deaf and blind for all intents and purposes. 

Attacks are like lightning. If you were in the presence of a Komodo Dragon, you wouldn't know it until it was too late. 

I set off a series of things in motion about 18 months ago that I could not have fully understood at the time. Relationships changed in my personal life, and in my public life of Saipua I started toying with the idea of abandoning my identity as a florist. But more than that, I was in a longer process of altering deep patterns I had formed around work and success and I was making space to revaluate the value of beauty in our world and the ways in which we seek out, create and obtain meaning in our lives. 

As a florist, I'm like hired gun for conjuring beauty. Years ago teaching flower classes I would occasionally have a student mid-way through an arrangement give up and ask me to 'just make it for them.' Which I was happy to do, I was essentially being paid to perform as florist-teacher. And lots of people enjoyed that performance, learned something, had a nice afternoon. As did I.

Now I want to teach something different.

At the farm I have the opportunity to not only show people about how to make flowers but how to do all sorts of things. Grow flowers, grow beans. Use beans in flower arrangements, dry beans, soak beans (2 days before you plan to eat them), cook beans. A lot of people don't think about cooking with dried beans, but they should! They are the key to the future, along with more cereal (wheat and grain) crops. Sometimes I want roasted lamb with beans. So we raise some of our sheep for meat. If our sheep rotationally graze in the same field as the beans grow, then they spread their manure around, and we get better beans. And better flowers to set on the table when we make a special lamb dinner. And softer wool for the blankets we make.

I want to show people how to set the table. I want to show people about real economy.

For a long time I was confused about how to define this next chapter for saipua. How to talk about what I wanted here with flowers and farming, what our mission was going to be, how to make a living around agriculture.

There have been a lot of long months of relative stillness, my tongue flicking and tasting the air. Endless circular and sluggish conversations around business, capitalism, the selling of experiences, etc. Maybe you knew it all along, or saw it coming and maybe I did too, but was too deeply entrenched in the details of it to see what was emerging, what was coming into focus.

Worlds End, Saipua, The Coyote Cafeterias, all these things are all part of a SCHOOL with the simplest curriculum: HOW TO LIVE



HOW TO LIVE: is a phrase Andrea Zittel uses powerfully in her work and it's stuck with me since I first heard it. Zoe has spent time at AZ West and brought back many ideas from Andrea's projects there that have influenced our thinking to some degree here. Borrowing this phrase, which I can't seem to alter in any way to better explain what our mission is here, is a nod to a spirit of collectivism I hope to continue to weave across all sorts of groups, collective endeavors, businesses and schools which are 'up to stuff' in a similar spirit. The Cabbage SchoolSuccurroThe Root Community are a few that come to mind immediately in our circle...

CHILDREN: If you watch our instagram stories, you may be wondering where all the children have been coming from. In an unexpected turn of events, my nephew Finn, 5 years old has come to live at Worlds End for a while. This has been a stressful and enlightening experience for me. Some of the contractors who have been working to finish our visitor center have been bringing their children to work and so Zoe and I find ourselves in the middle of what is essentially a day care center in the middle of a construction zone in the middle of a working farm. It's exhilarating, emotional and absolutely dangerous and full of new modes of creativity for us that were previously locked. The last few weeks have confirmed for me two things; we absolutely need to have a program here for children, and I don't want my own. 


Anna said...

Always a pleasure to read your thoughts here.
Incidentally, I cook with dried beans — a recent favourite is Borlotti beans on toast, with sage.

jillyg said...

I’ve been checking for new posts every day, I am thrilled to hear what’s come into focus for you and your work.

Anonymous said...

felt my heart crack open reading this.

Alyssa said...

Ready to enroll my 5 day old, so keep us posted

Lakshmi said...

It's all new and exciting. Good luck, Sarah!

Lakshmi said...

Also, I use dried beans all the time. It's fairly common in Indian cooking.

Anonymous said...

please consider the comments you make in regards to the privacy of a child who does not have the agency to express himself or perhaps even decide if he wants to be photographed. best wishes to you and your family.-

Sarah said...

Lolling hard @anonymous

What a sweetie pie kid and eff the haters !

Anonymous said...

Love this! I hope you consider a week program for preteen/teen girls. I'm a mother of a twelve year old girl, and I know middle schoolers get a bad rap, but this age group is so passionate, thoughtful, and willing to help and learn. What a great direction and opportunity for your farm and those you teach. I recently read an article on Civil Eats that talks about the way women farm, network, and create community around food. A good read. In my opinion, the more women we can get in agriculture, the better off our land and our health will be! Wishing you and your endeavors all the best! :)