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Organic for Life

Michele Shean's commitment to organic living is deep and steadfast.  The following journal entry written in 1985 conveys her sense of spirituality associated with growing and distributing organic foods:

I Love My Work

"I enjoy my work. Waking before the birds, my most comfortable clothes on, I walk into the dark. Barely able to see with my eyes, my farmer being identifies each plant by its shadow figure nestled down by the cool dark soil of our labor.

"As my eyes adjust, I prepare for morning harvest. Buckets are lined up in a row filled with cool well water. I listen to the sound of my blade against the stone as I sharpen my favorite harvest knife. Ked tennis shoes are the best – the soul is thin and my feet can feel the shapes of the path I walk.

"Squatting by my basket I choose the most matured light green lettuce. I lift the leaves with one hand and the knife cuts just above the gravely soil. Placed face down, the milk runs sticky from the stem just cut. I move by one side and then the next of the forty foot, hand-prepared organic lettuce bed.

"My attitude is prayerful.  This food is a gift to a society of people with illnesses such as cancer and immune deficiencies.

"Each lettuce is gently dipped so we don’t tear the leaves.  When it breaks the surface, the water pulls and rushes back to the bucket. Laid face down to drain, these forty-some buttery rosettes will make fine meals in forty different homes.

"Romaine parsley and sugar peas are all crying out to be taken. They all want to be of service – not one wants to be judged too small or not good enough to be of service.           

"The pace picks up as the sun is now announcing its coming with a touch of pink light.  A lone mockingbird’s song. Another ritual of choosing, leaving some to grow a day or two. Then the bed will be cleared and reworked for the next crop.

"Cut, washed, and drained I move the boxes to the shade of the garage/workshop. Peas picked to a basket is easier work for the back. Two fingers hold the pea and a quick motion snaps it from the plant. These don’t need washing – they last longer in their natural state.  Sweet and crisp, this is breakfast.

"Parsley in a bed is my favorite, darkest green of all ruffled leaves on stems. Picking around the outside of the plant, I think of Freida.  She always loves parsley as much as I do. Her great appreciation of the food I grow is the paycheck."