Green Gulch Farm-An Intentional Community

IMG_6978On Thursday, July 21, 2016 CommunityGrows invited three groups-Up on Top, Prince Hall Learning Center and our BEETS-for a final visit to Green Gulch Farm in Marin County this summer. Nestled in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s (GGNRA) Muir Beach watershed, Green Gulch is the perfect adventure for our City kids to explore. Green Gulch is recognized as a place where organic farmers can come to learn the tools of their trade. One of the original architects of the gardens at Green Gulch was the renowned late horticulturist Alan Chadwick—who had introduced the biodynamic farming techniques influenced by Rudolf Steiner on the farm. Green Gulch operates a 7-8 acre organic vegetable farm and a 1 to 1.5-acre fruit, herb and flower garden. The fruit, herb and flower garden is, “arranged in a series of ‘rooms’ in the formal English style. In the bowl of the valley is the core of the gardens: an herbal circle of shrubs, roses and perennials, enclosed by a yew hedge with rose arbors and paths out to the larger garden. IMG_7023What makes Green Gulch unique is that it is an intentional community, a planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. Green Gulch Farm is also a Zen Center, known as Green Dragon Temple (Soryu-ji), a Buddhist practice center in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition offering training in Zen meditation and ordinary work. It is one of three centers that make up San Francisco Zen Center, which was founded by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Students live on the farm, meditate daily, work in the fields and at various jobs to support their lives together. The Green Gulch Farm community is a steward for the watershed that travels through to Muir Beach and is part of the GGNRA. CommunityGrows is fortunate to have a strong relationship with Green Gulch Farm, which provides docents who led our groups of youth through the fields, and point out interesting areas, engaging them in many learning experiences. IMG_7039IMG_7046Sukey Parmelee, Green Gulch Farm’s Land Advocate, particularly organizes the visits with four or five volunteer docents. On this visit, Sukey joined Dahlia Kamesar, Donn DeAngelo, Dianna and Elizabeth to take different groups on adventures. IMG_6970IMG_6986The BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) had a rare visit with the Green Gulch Baker, Mick Sopko who talked to them about the breads that are made and where they are sold and served every day. The BEETS got to try three kinds of bread, which was one of the highlights of the day. One of their other highlights was meditating in the meditation hall. IMG_7011Through their walk into the fields, Sukey talked to the BEETS about the restoration of the watershed. The restoration provides vital spawning and rearing habitat for salmonids and other species, as well as restores the flood plain and diversifies riparian species. Green Gulch has connected a side creek stem in an above ground channel, which delivers much needed water, sediment, and gravel to the lower creek, providing critical habitat for protected coho, steelhead and California red-legged frogs, as well as many other wild creatures.IMG_7087IMG_7048The youth also got to eat some apples, tomatoes and herbs, and walk through the rows of lettuce, chard, squash. IMG_7050IMG_7060IMG_7065The BEETS watched garden apprentices pack up produce for shipment. After lunch everyone walked down the path to Muir Beach and frolicked in the ocean. One of our BEETS was very impressed with how Green Gulch was such an amazing and supported community.IMG_7069 For more photos from the day, see our Flickr Photostream here.IMG_7088