The Fall of the Favas
Now, while many gardeners have planted their spring and summer crops, the land I work still holds winter’s fava beans. The fava beans replenished Mother Earth. As the favas fall, the earth revitalizes and hopes for healthy 2012 crops! This year I will incorporate the indigenous farming practices of both Mexico and California’s Chumash people.
As an organic farmer and as a human being, I use cycles of four. I planted maiz/corn and beans for three years. Maiz utilizes a significant amount of Mother Earth’s nutrients. Many gardeners say that the pairing of maiz, beans and squash maintains the soils nutrients. I felt, though, that after three years of a similar cycle, the earth deserved the nitrogen offered by the roots of beans. The previous planting year has been about restoration and rest on my parcel of land.
Thus, last seasons crop consisted of only beans: black beans, gigante or cannellini beans, and ojos del venado, also called “pinto beans.” Our crops provide delicious, nutrient-rich beans to our house-hold. The beans grew solely from the tradition of human working the land – free of modern farming techniques that use petroleum, fertilizers and other wasteful toxins. The season of beans proved to be restful for me as well. With the rest from this type of indigenous farming, another tradition of human and plant relationship surfaced.
Within the restful season of beans, I learned about the essential plant medicine and food of the California Coast’s Chumash people. I like to say that Chumash territory is where the oak trees and the ocean meet on coastal Cali. The medicine and cultural traditions exist today amongst the Wal-marts, auto sales, ma and pop shops, “Chinos,” state parks, federal parks, freeways, streets, sidewalks, etc. This years crops at El jardin de la playa will reflect practices of Chumash ecology.
Just as the farming practice of maiz (corn), frijol(beans), and calabasa(squash), reflect indigenous Meso-american/Mayan/Mexica/Aztec culture, the harvesting of traditional Chumash plants refects indigenous culture of California. This year’s crops will include way way (salvia apiana, white sage) and yerba mansa (anemopsis californica). I also hope to harvest kopsheek (artemisia californica, coastal sage) and wishap (eriodictyon crassifolium, yerba santa). The Chumash names are written with in the sentences, followed by the latin and common names. I use the Chumash names so that both the reader and writer can incorporate Chumash language into our daily lives.
As the favas fall, I reflect on the past year of replenishing our soil between the river and the ocean. Our crops this year await in our land and in our dreams. Meanwhile, in the air above the land: two doves frolic, hummingbird rests at the tip of the plum tree, pigeons come and go, small finches and brown birds thrive. Our world reinvents. We smile. We sing. We thrive.