The beauty of all-encompassing stillness.
A dogged hunt for that one mosquito that got in the house.
Tasting a new fruit I didn’t know existed: every. single. day.
Feeling psychologically stripped-down (in a good way).
Waking up to real live rooster-song.
The creamiest avocados – all you can eat, all day every day.
These are just a few of the things I’ve experienced in the last week since I stepped foot on the 5-acre Hawaiian farm I’m calling home for the next three months.
Let’s step back for a second. In my previous two posts, I wrote about how I got into food and the goals of my blog. Since then I’ve been on hiatus, and I still haven’t posted any recipes… I know – LAME!
The truth is, a few things have been holding me back:
a. I don’t have a crystal clear direction for what I want this blog to be.
b. Posting my writing publicly is scary (!) and
c. Writing recipes is harder than I thought because I never measure anything - oops!
But I'm moving past all of these. I know that I need to write about food, and I really want to share the food I make and inspire people to build confidence in the kitchen. I know I need to just do it. So I commit to doing it. Regularly. For the next three months (and hopefully well beyond).
Ok - I’m sure you’re wondering how I ended up on a farm in Hawaii. Since those initial blog posts back in June, I quit my food job in favor of the freedom to very intentionally figure out my next food/career move. I’m 90% sure I don’t want to be a chef, but I knew that I wanted to try being “closer” to food to determine whether I’d like to be some kind of artisan, farmer, or other food producer. At the very least, I knew that I wanted to experience firsthand what it’s like to work at growing food every day – for my love of food and new knowledge if nothing else.
Being single and 27 with a big case of the travel bug, I thought I should have some adventure before anything else. Hawaii was at the top of my travel list and working on a farm was at the top of my food to-do list, so marrying the two seemed like a perfect, intentional adventure. To top it off – Hawaii is the only place in the United States that grows coffee – my one true love. A little research, two emails and a phone call later, and I was accepted as an intern at the Big Island coffee farm I’m on now. The deal is – I work 30 hours a week in exchange for housing and food. I’m at an all-organic farm that grows mainly coffee and macadamia nuts to sell, as well as cacao for chocolate, and a variety of tropical fruits that get processed into jellies, jams, dried fruit and fruit leathers. Naturally, a variety of vegetables, herbs and bountiful tropical fruits are grown for our own consumption. Oh - and there are some wild chickens that occasionally leave eggs, though I’m still waiting to find one.
When I arrived last Wednesday, aside from the sheer disbelief that I was actually doing this, I was first overcome by the peaceful stillness of the farm, especially at night. We’re in a pretty remote area about 30 minutes south of Kona, at 2,000 ft elevation. The only “neighbor” sounds I’ve heard are an occasional dog bark or lawnmower. Otherwise, it’s just the crickets, birds, rain, and rustle of the wind.
Now that I’ve been here for a week, I’m realizing how utterly ideal this situation is for me at this moment in my life. For the next three months I'm embracing a simple lifestyle on the farm. From 7:30am - 1:30pm I get to work with my body (weeding, picking coffee, harvesting fruit, planting seeds, making jam, etc) and mind (trying to absorb as much information as possible from farmer & owner Una, with some food policy discussions sprinkled in among my unending questions). And then from 1:30pm on I’m free to read, write, cook, and reflect. It’s like a food lover’s learning & writing retreat. I couldn’t be more excited and I hope you’ll follow along with me to see how this adventure unfolds!
Other than here on the blog, you can find me on my Instagram (@garlicpressjess) and SnapChat: (jslioon/garlic press jess) for the daily dirt. More on Hawaii later, and get excited for at least two recipes coming within a week. Promise!