By Leilani Fernandez
Ranch Crew Member and former PMRCAA Summer Intern
We’d like to welcome back Leilani Fernandez as a Ranch Crew Member this year after a summer internship last year. Here’s their dispatch from the ranch:
With all the rain we’ve been getting here in Central Oregon it hardly feels like summer, though anyone who has lived here through a fire season knows how welcome it is. The rain is a hopeful thing that brings with it lush fields, raging rivers, fungal friends, and a sense of gratitude for the little things. Just as I am feeling thankful for the rain, I feel thankful to be spending another summer here at Pine Meadow Ranch.
Nothing quite compares to the sensory experience of tending to the garden in the shadow of the Three Sisters—the sound of birds chirping (and peacocks squawking), the shades of green and pops of floral brilliance, the smell of the rich soil. Research shows that there are bacteria that reside in the soil that have a similar effect on the brain as antidepressants and promote the release of serotonin—don’t be afraid to scoop up a handful and breathe deep. The earth gives us gifts in many forms.
This brings to mind the concept of reciprocity. We use this land to grow food, pasture cows, and create art and community. And there are ways for us to give back. In the words of Native Potawatomi author Robin Wall Kimmerer, “A garden is a nursery for nurturing connection, the soil for cultivation of practical reverence.” Through stewarding the land, removing harmful invasive species, and promoting plants that improve the soil and provide wildlife habitat, we can reciprocate. Through the processes of regenerative agriculture, we can reciprocate. Through time spent with our hands in the dirt, giving essential water and nutrients to our vegetable gardens, we can reciprocate.