Hello Friends and Family!
I’m back online! My absence was due to the great Chinese firewall – censorship of many sites including Facebook and wordpress (the site I use to blog). I started this note on a balcony in Caicun, China – a small town sandwiched between Erhai Lake to the east and a jagged snow capped mountain range to the west, with long expanses of fields joining the two – beans and scallions, canola and corn. Each day bodies work tirelessly with straw pointed hats in the sun and the wind. This particular valley is host to extremely strong gusts of wind after 3pm.
China was a most pleasant surprise. Upon arrival we stayed a week in Kunming, the capital of Yunan province (southwest). It was quite lovely while we were there, especially since it was springtime with a most delightful temperature coupled with tree-lined streets exploding with pink and white blossoms. Everywhere I have been within Yunan province – 7,000 feet above the Yangtze River hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge, ordering noodles and dumplings from a vendor on a side street in Kunming, a small village nestled quietly among fields of grapes or a Buddhist monastery high up on a mountainside listening to monks chant before the sunrises under a rather full moon – I am enchanted with springtime. It constantly delights. I think of those courageous snowdrops, the first flowers to break through the thawing earth early in March in Vermont every year.
We just finished our unit on sustainable agriculture, students worked in the fields with their host families, mostly weeding, but also harvesting garlic scapes, and I think the biggest take-away for the students was just how difficult it is to grow food – at the very least they will think of farmers and rural communities now and not take these things for granted. Many struggled with their food choices, knowing that constantly eating mangos in the northeast in winter is not particularly sustainable and yet not wanting to necessarily change their eating habits. At the very least, they can articulate and understand that while organic may be more expensive at the check-out counter, that conventional foods are not as cheap as they first appear, harboring a boatload of hidden costs, ranging from tax dollars subsidizing industrial corn and soy to the environmental costs such as soil degradation and water pollution. We have all agreed that the question we need to be asking and addressing is no longer “Can sustainable agriculture feed the world?” but “How will it?” as we understand there really is no alternative.
Photos of my time in China.
We explored the temples at Angkor Wat the past couple of days (Barb, you have been with me in spirit knowing how much you’ve been wanting to be here. In fact, I’ve been having conversations with you in my head when I see interesting things!) and today Katie, Hope and I are biking to a silk farm to check out how that works. I’ll post photos in the upcoming days.
more to come…missing you all tremendously…
BIG HUGS – a.