Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Experience Unlike any Other - P.E.A.S. 2012

    Wednesday was my last active day as a credit-receiving intern at the P.E.A.S. farm. It has been nine months since I began my work at the farm, starting in the cold month of February breaking ice and defrosting the green house. Much has changed, on the farm, in my life, and within my being. I feel as though my time spent on the farm has been a healing experience. My faith in people has been restored through the meaningful work that I have done, through the beautiful landscape we created.
Working the land is a lesson in both impermanence and cyclical nature. The onions that we labored so hard to keep weed free are now long-gone, being enjoyed by CSA members, students and shoppers at the Missoula Food bank. The unpacking of Remay, the countless hours of seeding, weeding, harvesting and moving pipes in the hot summer sun have been replaced by their opposing actions through the cold autumn days.
    Nine months I have devoted to this farm, this project. Food grown, people nourished with blood and sweat, our labor of love. I will remember my experience on this farm, in this beautiful place called Missoula, the Rattlesnake valley, for the rest of my existence. I know that it has left an impression on me, and I hope that I have in some small way left a lasting impression on it.

    Thank you to all who made my experience so amazing. Through the early July mornings pulling weeds for hours, to the 1830 pumpkins we hand picked, I had a truly remarkable time with each and every one of you. You know who you are.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cider - Take One

Fall is in full swing here in Western Montana. The trees are bursting with color, the nights have grown cool and crisp and the days are quickly growing shorter. Pumpkins are beginning to appear on neighbors' doorsteps, soon to become jack-o-lanterns. With all of this standard fall activity, I decided to try something new: home-brewing cider.

At the farm that I work on we have an old manual-style apple grinder and press. It is built of heavy oak and cast iron, staples of an industrious bygone era. Sunday I made my way up to the farm with a couple of friends and we fresh pressed about 130 ounces of cider from Montana-grown honeycrisp apples. Unfortunately, because apples are so expensive- I was forced to mix our fresh cider with three gallons of store bought cider (preservative free of course!). The combined cider was mixed with about a cup and a half of raw unbleached sugar in a 5 gallon carboy that I bought at Summer Sun Brew & Garden.
I opted for using a British Ale yeast instead of the champagne yeast that was originally recommended to me. My hope is that by doing this the cider will retain more of its' natural sweetness and apple flavor. From what I have read, using champagne yeast tends to result in a very dry end product. 

Fermentation began late last night, and I expect it to continue for at least a couple of weeks. Already much of the suspended solids within the carboy have fallen and the cider has taken on a lighter yellow hue. In 2-3 weeks I will rack the cider into a second carboy for secondary fermentation, and from there, on to bottling. I only hope my first attempt is successful!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Food For Thought

I have come across several quotations in my studies recently that I found to be of particular importance. I jotted them all down in my pocket notebook, and thought I would share them here.

"The true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

      I find these statements by Roosevelt to be informative and inspiring. I agree that those who are "too needy" are inherently insecure. As the fictitious character Tyler Durden said in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club - "The things you own, own you."

"In wildness is the salvation of the world" - Henry David Thoreau

     Many who have ventured into the wild for any amount of time can probably attest to the healing ability of the natural world. This is a profound statement from a historical authority on simple living and time spent in nature. I find that time spent in wild places has a centering effect on me, helping to put the worries of life into perspective. Nothing feels more 'real' than being away from the facade of civilization.

"Man always kills the thing he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?" - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

    One of the most powerful statements in A Sand County Almanac, I have seen this ring true through the destruction of popular recreation areas and the commodification of nature through 'game ranches' and the like. While not universally true, I believe that humans often lack the ability to truly leave something alone, resulting in more damage than good.

Any thoughts? Favorite quotes you have come across recently? Please share in the comments below.