Archive | April, 2015

Vairochana Farm – Planting, Zen, and Spring

30 Apr


Dear Friends,

It’s been a very busy month. Spring is finally here, and we are planting away. Your presence is always welcome, but particularly the weekend of May 9-10 when we’re putting up fences for the berries, and May 11, 12 and thereafter, when we actually plant the orchard and berries with the guidance of the Ecological Gardens permaculture teachers.

We are now in our first Zen practice period. For the past two weeks three of us have been sitting morning and evening, eating and working together, and living as sangha. Federico went on yesterday to visit Sanshinji and other American sanghas, while Ki remains for another month and then also goes to visit other Zen communities. Although I’ve sat sesshin here before, having three people for the entire five days was wonderful – and a first. (We did have work periods, getting ready for orchard installation work.)

Last weekend we had a whole bunch of people working here, mostly volunteers. We hand dug near the power lines in the future berry patch area, and rototilled the rest – including borrowing a new rototiller when the first borrowed one had 2015-04-27 east field and Ki Gillamtrouble. We moved fencing to be ready for the next work weekend, saved sod for future uses, bought a lawn tractor and mowed where needed…. On Monday the professionals came, laid out contour lines and strip tilled in keyline designs, in both the orchard area (east field) and the berry area. Tuesday we started seeding, ordered new seeds, created a water wagon with a pump (after trying gravity feed – and that’s wholly thanks to Ki’s creativity). Wednesday we finished the water wagon, did a bit more seeding, and today as I write Ki is watering and seeding. The seeds are clover under the trees and berries, and a pollinator mix in the buffer strips.

The next projects (should you wonder) will include putting up fences 2015-04-29 water truck and Ki Gillamaround the berry areas, planting orchard trees inside tree tube protectors, planting berries, and planting native-plant buffer strips which will grow into deer barriers.

Meanwhile, we’ve been eating great food – Ki and I have different recipes for nettle soup, both wonderful – and loving watching people fall in love with the land and work.

Personally, today is the tenth anniversary of my ordination as a Buddhist priest – called shukke tokudo, homeleaving. It seems like I’ve always been thus. Gratitude wells up at being able to practice with spiritual friends, both Zen and other.

Much warmth and respect to you all.

Shodo Spring


Slowing down, outside

1 Apr

Dear Friends,

the river

the river

Spring is finally here. Outside barefoot today – back to normal tomorrow, but the forecast is pleasant.

This is outdoor work time. I’ll be posting less often, probably once a month. There will be gardening, orchard planting, and

Saturday's visitors

Saturday’s visitors

caring for the land. There will be volunteers, and visitors are still welcome. But organizing and fundraising can wait until fall, along with big projects like finishing the house renovation/solarization.

Volunteer dates include April 24-25 and May 9-10; activities include planting the orchard and berries, taking care of erosion in the woods (replacing invasives with natives), gardening, and whatever we may like at the time. Monthly 5-day retreats continue, and July 18-19 is scheduled for a joint teaching retreat with Justin Merritt (a Theravadin academic) and me co-teaching.

2015-03-29 15.32.48Sugaring season is almost over. Black walnut syrup is just about the best thing you ever tasted,

and next year I’ll tap more walnut trees. Foraging season is on; today I gathered and ate baby stinging nettles, and they’ll be feeding me well into the season of wood nettles, morel mushrooms, and the rest. Wandering in the woods season

is officially on; it’s a least a month until the mosquitoes appear.

Thank you all for your support.



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