Sitting on the ground peeling garlic in my Carhartt overalls, an October sun casting surprisingly warm evening light over the farm and surrounding Oregon hills, I listened intently as James described his favorite way to butcher a lamb. He used fancy terms like "loin roast", "riblets" and "square cut shoulder", and told us about working in New York with some of the most famous charcutiers and salumists (people who view meat as not only a food source, but as an art, a passion, a religion and a way of life) in the world. He described to us a culinary "school" he attended in Greenwich Village in the 80s where they would concoct a huge feast and sit down for 4 hours with about 20 bottles of wine, 2 whole cooked animals-of-choice, and lots of story telling. Will you blame me if I drop out now?
I popped a raw clove of garlic in my mouth.
When I asked James why he stopped being a chef (after working in New York City, San Francisco, Portland, and other culinary hot-spots), he responded that his music career took over.
"What kind of music do you make?" Asked Betsy, also in Carhartts, also peeling garlic.
"Oh, electronic dance music..." Replied James. I laughed.
So here he is: an electronic-dance-music-making-charcutier-chef-professor-of-soil-sciences-at-Oregon-State-University who happens to be the head of the Organic Growers Club here on campus. And I've only known him for two weeks! What a guy. What a polymath. He's the kind of guy who makes you want to sink your hands into piles of hot, rotting mulch and dig through vole-holes and rotting tomatoes and squirming bugs to plant a single clove of garlic, with the hopes that next summer we'll have beds overflowing with garlic ready to be harvested. Given how the farm seems to be going, they'll have giant, tangled beds of more garlic than they know what to do with.
Here we have an average Thursday work party at the Organic Growers Club - a very eclectic group of passionate Corvallis people who get together every week and talk about almost anything you could imagine. Last week our discussions surrounded abnormally shaped winter squash, the smell of October, and the multitude of ways in which vegans miss out on most good things in life. (So really our conversations pertain to any and all hippy topics. Fine. Whatever. It's the Organic Growers Club. Give me a goddamned break.)
But could this really be? Could I have actually found people that I have interests in common with here in the clod-hoppin town of Corn Valley, Oregun? Could there really exist here people who understand me when I talk about lose-leaf tea, my romantic obsession with edible plants and animals, and valuing my health above most other things in life? Surely it can't be true...
I'm still skeptical. As for now I'm listening to a particularly good Ted TV talk on the 6 ways mycelium fungus is going to save the world.
Dream in a pragmatic way,