Archive for Spirit


It has been a wet year. Lots of rain in spells, and we are having one now. All day yesterday, through the night, and still this morning, and forecasts for at least two more days of rain. Good for crops in the ground that are not in low-lying areas; trouble with grass and weeds trying to take over afterwards. It’s easy to understand why so many farmers have turned to plastic-culture (covering the ground with black plastic and inserting plants in holes poked through), and using drip irrigation to water when needed. It is an effective system for growing food, while saving labor and money.

For us the method is too costly in spite of it’s labor-saving qualities. Too costly to the environment when the massive swaths of used plastic are disposed as waste in the landfills, and too costly to the soil organisms that contribute to the strength and viability of the food we rely on as medicine.

We are ramping up our efforts to work in harmony with the natural forces and agencies – the soil food web, native pollinators, organic fertilizers, cover crops and crop rotations, and proven varieties of heirloom crops – to produce the strongest food possible. We are also making a renewed effort to save more of our own seeds.

When the corona virus epidemic emerged this spring, I was shocked that the seed houses we have used for almost 20 years closed down (it turned out to be temporary and they reopened after a couple of months). It was an important lesson for me, and I received it this time. I’m putting in place the understanding of seed saving, and the facilities to do it well. An added bonus of leaving the plants in the field to bloom and produce seeds has been an increase in native pollinators, and the joy of watching the antics of a flock of red finches eating the seeds. Interesting to note that they preferred the turnip and mustard seeds over those of the various kales. Now that these domestic seeds are gone, they will have to resort back to the seeds of wild grasses and herbs for food.

All the rain has been a boon to the mints this year. Each variety is bountiful – tall, green, fragrant spires after its own kind. Apple, spearmint, chocolate, peppermint, mojito, orange, and pineapple all in abundance. Not to mention the seemingly omnipresent lemon balm – a cousin with powerful brain protective powers. Some of each will be harvested and preserved through drying for teas, and mint syrup for other uses.

Quite a few bunnies around, but nothing like last year when they were almost underfoot. Considering their numbers, they did not do much damage, preferring the tender lettuces and chards to the kales and cabbages. On Saturday I saw a mother rabbit defending her nest and young from a flock of crows – surrounded but holding her ground. The crows flew away as I walked up, but she sat there -still and quiet in plain sight- as I walked past. I have seen crows kill a young baby rabbit, all alone, by pecking it to death.

I worked in the muscadine vineyard on Sunday afternoon, mowing between the rows of vines, pulling the new limbs off the main trunk, and trimming the dogbane, wild rose, and asparagus ferns underneath the canopy. This is the contribution of the wind and the birds, and just part of the work of growing grapes. Unlike 2018, I did a careful job of pruning this year, and the vines look great. Limiting production through pruning benefits the vines and improves the quality of the grapes. Each year as I prune, I see the remnants of the tiny, neatly constructed nests of the tiny Coopers Sparrow, tucked into tight forks near the center of the vines for food and protection.

Life goes on, and I give thanks for the privilege of working in this beautiful place – a steward to care for a legacy that belongs to the future.

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Another Day In Paradise

I awoke, refreshed, to the sound of light rain against the bedroom’s window pane.  The forecast was right this time, and I automatically shifted to ‘plan B’ for the day’s activities.  My lifestyle is luxurious, allowing for self-directed changes that provide balance and promote well-being.  Intentional breathing, qi-gong, focusing meditation, libation to God and Ancestors, nourishing breakfast, care for the animals, and, today, writing a blog post.  I want to share a little of the wonder of Abanitu with the many who labor in the artificial world of ‘work’. Since this is my first post of the year, I’ll go back a little for context.


Last fall and winter were the wettest anyone could remember – even the old-timers said so.  Every week or so we got 1-2 inches of rain, beginning in late October and continuing until early March.  The fall planting of our major crops of garlic and strawberries was just completed when it began. The constant rain made it impossible to weed the crops however, and by spring the weeds had overwhelmed them, affecting their development and production. But when it did stop raining, the temperatures soared (hot for March), and the ground dried out quickly, leaving the clay hard and uncooperative. Even our permanent raised beds, built for the purpose of providing a planting option during wet springs, had become hard.  I shifted, planting our earliest greens in the 3 hoop houses until we could till the designated beds for the greens.


We ordered seed in early January (mostly from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in Charlottesville, Va., but also a few others), and had first seedlings of kale, chard, spinach, endive, and lettuce by late January.  February is the month we prune our grape vines, fruiting trees / shrubs, and roses.  We also inoculate logs for Shiitake mushrooms at this time (the logs are cut in January).

This year our plan was to plant the more cold sensitive chard and lettuce in the hoop houses by mid – February, and the more cold hardy kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and endive outside in the raised beds by mid–March. This is also the time to plant the sugar-snap peas along the trellis in the hoop houses, and two weeks later we plant them outside in the trellised raised beds on the north-side by the greenhouse nursery. In the same outside timeframe we would plant onions and ‘white’ potatoes down in the paddock field near the garlic.

The warm season crops – beans, squash, cantaloupes and watermelons would be direct seeded in the paddock field the first of May, while the tomatoes, flowers, and golden berries are started in the greenhouse in early March, and transplanted outside in the raised beds in early May. So it is a busy time of year, and weeding, tilling, mowing, and irrigating are also part of the duties. For the most part, making adjustments for weather and frosts, we achieved our early planting goals. Going forward we will plant more rotations of the warm- season crops, and include some late May plantings of ginger, turmeric and galangal (Thai ginger).

This has been a cool wet spring, and our greens have flourished.  Since we focus on the kales, chard, cabbage, and spinach as healing foods, I’ve been pleased with our offerings at market. Our customers also seem pleased, often commenting that our greens are the best at market.

Markets Open in April

Our most important market, the Durham Farmers Market in downtown Durham, opened April 2, and the Person County Farmers Market in Roxboro opened April 23. I’m serving as President of the DFM this year, and it’s both an honor and real responsibility that requires time and focus. To maintain an assigned space in the market vendors must attend a minimum of 23 weeks out of a total of 34 for the market’s main season (April – November).  Getting an early growing start to be at market is important. We met our goal of being at the opening market, and have not missed one so far.  We also made a large CSA order in early May to our Charlotte AASI customers, with very good feedback from them.

Last Saturday we took our first offerings of sugar-snap peas from the hoop houses to market.  Only one other farmer was offering them.  We priced ours a little below theirs, because it seemed to us to be the fair price.  Customers loved them, some biting into them right away in spite of our instructions to wash them first.  They know we don’t use chemical sprays and other dangerous practices, so they were comfortable. Some even exclaimed loudly how good they tasted.  There were smiles all around.


Helping people to understand the direct connections between their food choices and health outcomes is a major reason I chose to farm at this point in my life.  I thank God for the privilege of my life and the opportunity to serve others in this important way.  It is so critical for the children, especially.

Recently, at a local store, I witnessed a Mother buying ‘breakfast’ for her two small children –  apparently before taking them off to school.  Sweet cakes and sweet drinks and chips – the children were excited and happy.  Both were already overweight.  I smiled at them, silently thanking them for reminding me of my duties and why I do them.

My responsibility is to pass on the knowledge and understanding that has been shared with me during my life, so that the lives of others will be better.  My work is not easy – sometimes it’s quite difficult – but I recognize that because of the diligence and sacrifice of others I live a privileged life filled with beauty and wonder.

I’m so grateful for another day in paradise…

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A Spirit-Based Sanctuary For Life

Abanitu is a spiritual place.  A spirit-filled place. It is a temple, devoted to the reconnection of people to the land, it’s fruits, and thereby, to God.  God is everywhere, in everything, in everyone, in me.  It is our connection to God that connects us to all life, at Abanitu and beyond.  I am one with all and the All in all.  Every tree, shrub and blade of grass is an expression of the Divine, making us one.  Each earthworm, cricket, dragonfly, bumblebee and butterfly shares a connection with each other and with me.  The birds, bats, squirrels and deer are all expressions of God, and therefore sacred.  Gnats, mosquitoes, wasps, snakes, and crows are all part of the Divinely inspired food web that is connected to every living thing, including humans, and must be allowed to have their place in the world for the well-being of the world.  Abanitu is just a small eco-system that helps to restore these important relationships, where all life is sacred.  This is the essence of its spirituality – it is a safe haven for life.

But, not just life; balanced, healthy, abundant life, avoiding the perversions and distortions so common today.  This is why Abanitu is an organic farm – a balanced, healthy eco-system that exalts life, for the production of vegetarian food essential to life and abundant health.

The  sacred lives that are sacrificed here on behalf of ourselves and others must be honored and sanctified, acknowledging our interdependence and ultimate oneness.  Each saved seed is beheld in wonder and treated with respect.  Planted in carefully combined soils with reverence and happy expectation, we understand that God is working a miracle – extending a healing, nourishing portion of Itself into the world for the benefit of the world and its inhabitants.
What is nourishment?  What does the human mind, body, spirit require to be healthy, balanced and whole?  Is it even possible today to cultivate food that meets this lofty expectation?  Can we afford to be satisfied with anything other than the supreme effort to achieve it?

The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of a people must be an important barometer of their level of civilization.  Food, and how it is grown  and prepared is central to our well-being. Shall we gain the whole material world and lose our appetites along with our health because we suffered the lazy, the greedy, and the unenlightened to control the production of our food?  Can the loss of our mental clarity and moral discretions be far behind, as we are coerced into choosing war and death over life and peace, in a stupor induced by empty food?  To say nothing of toxic food?

Still-born babies and premies accompany infant mortality as the legacy of under nourished expecant mothers, many of whom have never had a full quotient of nutrients themselves; victims of well-meaning but duped  parents who worshiped microwave convenience as if a new religion.  ‘Happy meals’  inculcate dietary habits that inevitably lead to unhappy lives for over weight children and obese young adults, and obscene profits for a predatory medical – pharmaceutical – industrial complex that, for all their billions, cannot connect the dots of cause and effect.

Not satisfied with chemically toxic and nutritionally empty food, these same giant corporate vampires are now seeking to replace God in the food equation.  Altering complex genetic structures that have nourished mankind for millenia and then patenting the frankenstein-ish outcome, these international corporations strive for greater profits and ultimate control over the world’s food supply.  They rationalize the diabolical practice of altering the fundamentals of plant and animal genetics, and are poisoning all humanity (and the world) in the process.  Damned if you eat, damned if you don’t.

This is why Abanitu must be a spirit-based sanctuary for life, marshalling the forces of God for life, food and all that is decent and wholesome.  To reach beyond the body and mind into that sacred connection that we all share, where miracles are born, and redemption through oneness is the natural way of being.

I give thanks to God, the forces of Nature, and the exalted Ancestors for the miracle we call Life….

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