A week ago, we took our Yoga Teacher Training to Suzie’s Organic Farm. Some 20 of us descended upon their 70 acres in the Tijuana River Valley where we were like bees to honey ~ Yogis abuzz in fields of bliss, busying ourselves in the bountiful, ambrosial bloom.
We began with Surya Namaskar, saluting the Sun as the prime giver of life, from a tiny knoll amidst rows of planted varieties. Breathing with the wind, aligning with nature, grounding into the earth’s aliveness, it was like Yoga inside a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem: Glory Be to God for Dappled Things ~ For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow… Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough.
Our Farm Tour Guide was Britta Turner, who has been working at Suzie’s since it began operations little more than two years ago. Britta began weeding in the troughs, back when she was still in college. Our 7th grader nodded knowingly. “Weeding helps with studies,” he whispered to me. “Reduces the stress.” Another reason for loving school gardens, I thought, with gratitude.
Britta is a bit of a celebrity in our local, urban farm movement. Beautiful, healthy, wonderful and wise, she is an organic Yogi who knows everything about local food ~ from heirloom to harvest, markets to meals. We are lucky to have her in our Yoga Training this year as she often arrives with gifts, and a gift from Britta is a waxy, sturdy box of dirty roots and gangly shoots. Yum. To know her is to love her, for she is a true child of nature.
Our favorite visit was to the rows of Romanescu Cauliflower, otherwise known as Mandelbrot for its fractals that replicate to infinity. Breath-taking. The kids loved seeing math in nature, and suddenly Brassicas became their favorite food.
But there was so much more ~ and Britta had us tasting everything! From red carrots to sweet snapping peas, spinach, collards, fennel, so many varieties of kale, all kinds of summer squash and even edible weeds, it was a banquet at nature’s fertile table.
There were many delightful discoveries, too. Who knew, for instance, that the mangy-looking Savoy Green was as good as spinach or that the pretty weed with itchy leaves and spikes of dusty magenta is edible ~ tasty even? And everyone had to sample the Mustard Greens ~ the best example of how pungent Spring can make her greens. Hot Holy Detoxifying Mama!
At home, I tossed those greens into a skillet where a bit of Garam Masala, fresh grated nutmeg, ghee and olive oil had already been warmed over a medium high flame. While that sautéed, I popped some fresh pasta into boiling water. Three minutes later I turned off the stove, poured onto the greens just enough coconut milk to coat, stirred to cover, then squeezed the juice of half a lemon all over the greens, and drained the pasta. Into the now empty but still warm pasta pot, I melted a spoonful of ghee and stirred in about a quarter cup of coconut milk, whisking in a handful of Nicolau Farm’s Herbed Goat Cheese and adding a dash of salt and pepper.
The drained pasta was returned to the pot and gently stirred in the sauce. Greens and pasta were then plated together side-by-side, so they would each have their moment of glory, and sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg.
Dinner was divine. No one said a word, though. We ate in silence, utterly absorbed in the tastes, the energy we could feel from food so fresh, the joy of the day summarized in the beauty on our plates, the miracle of it all.
Our day at the farm was Yoga in full bloom ~ Union with Divine Nature. Britta recommended we return for Volunteer Digs at Roots, an educational not-for-profit farm that is their partner and neighbor. We will definitely be back for that! If you are local, we invite you to join us Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2-5pm.
Thank you to Jamie LaMarche for the photographs of the Farm!