In constant pursuit of understanding natural processes, of working with nature to bring about the best possible results for land, trees, animals and humans, we’ve stayed committed to organically growing our olives and letting our birds roam freely.
Problem is that there’s no easy way to ensure a fertile crop and abundant eggs without spraying artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or containing the chickens in a small pen. We’re not going to do that, which means that we have to spend many hours figuring out how the different elements within the olive grove — trees, poultry, soil, pests and the microbial ecology that links them all — can exist in harmony. It’s a lengthy course of trial and error, observation and implementation, failure and experiments. One thing’s for sure: our hands are dirty and our boots are worn down.
Sukkot has brought the great gift of transition to the Weissman Farm. We had been fighting an uphill battle against the weeds, which were engulfing the trees. Then Bat-Chen and her haShomer HeChadash friends, along with Kayla, worked through the chag, tackling each tree, fighting off the chazirim shoots that threatened the kashrut of the upcoming masik, transforming the space from a wild jungle to a tamed grove.
Just as the psolet goren v’yekev, produced as the ancillary products of a previous year, are recycled into the schach required for a kosher sukkah, so too is the cycle within the farm: the prunings and clippings from the trees and shrubs around the moshav have all been mulched and strewn around our trees, tamping down any future weeds. The old growth is being reused.
Things come full circle on Sukkot, the holiday of cycles. We encircle the holy with our hakafot, we reenact the rain cycle with the nisuch hamayim ceremony, we sit in our transitional space of liminality in our sukkot, ushering out the past year and welcoming in the new year, drawing from the past as we look towards the future. The end always leads to the beginning; decay and breakdown feed new growth.
You spend hours with trees and birds (really, the first time for any of us that we’ve been invested in something other than what’s in our houses, communities, books and screens), and you slowly start understanding the patterns of existence around you. You see how birds behave, how eggs behave, how trees behave, how predators and insects behave, and how systems don’t stand alone, but interrelate. Laminatze’ach: a song for the Conductor, who weaves together different parts into a perfect harmonious whole.
What did King Shlomo do with the chochma (wisdom) granted him? He learned to speak to trees and imported animals to his zoo — לדעת מהות הנמצאים. To be fully adam, coming from the adama and returning to her, you need to understand your relationship and connectedness to the earth and all its creatures.
We all feel more comfortable with our farm, more in tune with the seasons and the cycles now that we’ve been here for a few years. We grow on her, and she grows within us.
Let’s pray for a rainy winter, and all of the new growth and freshness — and abundant surprises, I’m sure — that will emerge come spring.