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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Simple Living, High Thinking #8

For the week of July 21st-27th, 2008

Let's all pile into the back of the van for a crowded but ecstatic journey into the world of the Small Farm Training Center here at New Vrindaban Dham.

What we got done
-This week the whole Farm Crew took a field trip to the Field Day of the University of West Virginia's Organic Research Farm. Bringing prasad cookies and our happy presence, we recieved in return informative workshops on weed management, plant diseases, hand tools, and even a hay-ride tour of the gardens. We saw and networked with our good friends Dr. James Kotcon, Dr. Sven Verlinden, and the one and only "Chill" Will Lewis, esteemed alumni of the 2007 Small Farm Training Center internship program. Here's some pics...

-As promised last week, we had a chance to talk with our main man Tom Bernhardt, who is in charge of the extension to our tool shed in the Teaching Gardens, which when finished, will be used for workshops, fresh bread (from our bread oven), and much more. As Tom explains it...."We have 400 tires, filled with dirt, acting as the building's foundations. To compact one tire with dirt takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and the tire weighs about 300 pounds once it's filled. Using the tires like this comes in a mood of reusing and recycling the local materials we have around us, and the tires act as casting for the rammed earth, and they ultimately prevent erosion around the foundation."

"Now that the tires are all in, the next step is to find sand stone for the floor, which we'll get from local fields. We already have the wood for the building cut and milled from local sources and local devotees, such as Dr. Nick and Pracetas. The wood was cut from poplar trees around Bahulavan, and was milled with a Wood Miser saw mill. We also just had a bunch of fill dirt put in for the floor, thanks to Tejomaya and John Blakemoor, who got the excess dirt from their repairs of the community water-lines. It ended up being seven truck loads for a total of 45 tons of fill dirt."

Tom ponders how all this tire-smashing and stacking has lifted his soul

"We hope to be finished by November, including the bread oven, which will have walls made of limestone recycled from walls in Bahulavan. The oven itself will be wood-fired, and made out of clay plaster, like the style of the Quebec bread ovens."

"You can see we're trying to keep it local. Nothing from Lowe's or Home Depot." Tom also added..."Mr. President, tear down this Wal-Mart!"

-Up top at the Garden of Seven Gates, we continued efforts to re-plant a few rows of beans, as the peppers fight off weeds, the tomatoes slowly begin to appear, and the chard finally makes a luscious green appearance.

-Down in the Teaching Garden, we have a few crops ready to go. Beets, carrots, kale, chard, basil, mint, and lemon balm are all in stock. If you would like to bring yourself or some guests into our happy home to recieve some of this wonderful bounty, please feel free. We graciously take donations for these herbs and vegetables so that we can continue to maintain our self-sufficient projects for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada.

-Our two fresh-faced interns, Jude and Kelly from Florida, could be seen this week giving a garden tour to a very enthusiastic bench of Gujarati guests, and they could also be seen soaking up a DVD lecture given by David Blume on how alcohol can be used as fuel. This will be the last week for these two spirit souls here, as they wrap up their internship, and we wish them the best in their quest to make their thumb green for Krsna.

What we realized
As Dr. Kotcon said during the WVU Organic Field Day, "only dull people use dull tools." Keep em sharp!

We had an interesting discussion about austerity while performing the austerity of re-planting beans into the soil at Seven Gates. Tapahpunja regaled us with stories of days-gone-by here at New Vrindavan, the era of ice-cold baths and such, and of how powerful it was for spiritual advancement, if used in the right consciousness. It could also be powerful in a negative way, if used for pride and its various aftereffects.

Sometimes we feel as the younger generation of devotees that we aren't doing enough austerities in comparison to the generation of Prabhupada devotees, but we have to remember that austerity is relative to time, place, and personality. But there is ample opportunity in our garden projects for the kind of good, hard working seva that is infinitely pleasing to Prabhupada.

We can only hope and pray and inspire by our actions and words so that more motivated devotees come ready to get their hands dirty. If you're feeling a little bit on the lazy side, nothing cures those spiritual blues like tugging a few weeds out of the garden and out of your heart.

Please help us out! Your hands, heads, and hearts can help us restore Srila Prabhupada's vision of self-sufficency here at New Vrindaban Dham. We're out shining and even in the rain in the Teaching Garden across the street from the RVC Temple, or up the hill at the Garden of Seven Gates. See HG Tapahpunja Prabhu for all the details.

Click here for more info on the Small Farm Training Center.

Stay tuned for next week's update! Hari Haribol!

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