May 3 2009 — Last Sunday, I arrived at Zephyros Farm and Garden, where I’ll be staying and working for a couple of weeks.
Right off the bat, I knew I’d love this place. 35 acres of organic, healthy goodness: Zephyros abounds with beautiful veggies, scampering lambs, mouthy goats, budding blooms, and one big black dog called Ullur who spends all day prancing around with giant sticks in his mouth.
The farm (and garden!) is run by Don Lareau and Daphne Yannakakis. They’re a bit hard to photograph, since they’re usually each in the middle of five hundred different and equally important tasks. Between the two of them, they run a diversified organic farm and CSA; manage four full-time interns and various short-term workers; raise two absurdly cute kids, Sophia and Diego; manage a website full of photos, links, recipes, and news; host farm dinners and educational sessions; serve in the local organic growers’ association; make gourmet bread and cheese and lasagna and run their own house besides.
There are four interns here for the entire growing season (March to November). Karina and Siwar are from Ecuador and Peru respectively, and are here through the MESA program. Karl and Caryn are local yokels from Crested Butte. They all live together in the intern house, which makes up for its general disrepair with a lot of homemade art (plus you can write on the walls if you have something important to say).
Karina’s English is great, and Siwar is learning fast; more importantly, us white folks are all trying hard to practice our Spanglish. There are little signs all over the house with the names of things, and throughout the day we take turns teaching each other words and phrases. Daphne’s probably got the most Spanish, and she can mash two languages together like she was born doing it. The rest of us stick to “how do you say” and exaggerated enunciation.
It must be hard for Siwar especially, being so far from home (and the youngest at 20 years old). He spends a little more time in his room than everyone else and sometimes seems left out of the conversation, but still he manages to keep a big smile. In fact, everyone here seems the time to laugh in the face of trouble. Laid back, good senses of humor, good at problem solving, and smart. These are the kind of people I wouldn’t mind staying with longer than two weeks, but alas, this is not to be. I’ll have to get the most out of my time here, learn as much as possible before I move on.
In exchange for 20 hours of work a week, I get meals, all the education my brain can hold, and a place to put my tent. Don helped me pick out a great spot between two natural springs, back in the chokecherries where it doesn’t get too windy. From my tent window I can see Mount Lamborn and Landsend Peak, and the sun crosses the rise at 6:30am, its first rays hitting the window and waking me up in time to start work at 7.
Days here are long: we work past sunset with a couple of breaks for meals. There’s tons to do. Nw that the worst weather is past, everything’s budding and ready to go in the ground. We’re weeding and planting like champs. I missed the birthing of all the baby goats and sheep, but I still get to feed and cajole them; mama goats get milked twice a day and their milk is just about the sweetest thing you ever tasted. There’s watering to do in the greenhouses, pruning and tilling and everything else you can think of. Because it’s spring!
I have to say, I’m sad I won’t get to stay here longer. Paonia’s a great town, and Zephyros Farm is truly one of a kind. Something tells me I’ll be back here someday; til then, there’s still another week here for adventures— and a week’s worth of past adventures to fill you in on. Next time I think I’ll tell ya ’bout the dust storm. Come on back soon.
Originally posted at Uprooted, an eco/travel blog.