Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Work Projects and Communication

Hello beautifuls!!

It’s been a little while since our last correspondence. The past few weeks on the finca have been very exciting and a bit challenging, teaching me a lot of hands-on as well as interpersonal skills.

I spent some time working in the gardens, digging up, re-designing, and replanting our garden beds with Douwe, the gentle man in charge of managing the crops. We planted lots of leafy greens, including swiss chard, kale, and a variety of lettuces, as well as some radishes and tomatoes in our Coral Garden. We also spent some time weeding and fertilizing the garden beds with compost. Over the past few weeks, I also spent some time helping to build the earthship, mostly dealing with the concrete layer on top of the rock-packed tires. There have been a lot of eco building projects lately, including pounding rocks into tires to create a tire wall to prevent erosion near our stables, and working on cleaning and furnishing bamboo for the farm’s bamboo house.

I recently returned to work in the cob-rooms, using powdered hues to color calcium for painting the walls in some of the back bedrooms for former volunteers, interns, and tribe members. Calcium, a living finish, grows and repairs itself, but it requires constant moisture, at least in its early stage of its application. It covers our cob, and very soon it will be covering the cement layer of earthship. I have been learning so much on the farm and my creativity and awareness have continued to evolve positively.

Douwe and some volunteers at the finca harvested achote, a vibrant red fuzzy plant with bright red-orange “seeds”. We sometimes call it the lipstick plant because it can be used naturally for red-orange lipsticks and other make-up including eye-shadows, face paint, and bindis. We sun-dried the “seeds” and will grind them into powder with our bicycle-operated grinder/food processor, and find ways to store and use the powder.

The past few weeks have also presented many opportunities to learn from one another and to grow more aware of the importance of communication. The finca has had over about 21 people each day, including short and long-term volunteers, longer-term interns, and tribe members. It has been amazing having so much man-power to work the farm, but it also requires more constant and intentional attention to communication and clarity.

Generally, I was reminded of how important it is for people to remain in open, authentic communication with one another, not just as co-workers, but also as community-members, friends, family, and human beings. Communication is important, and can be most effective when relayed in a safe-space without judgment or accusation. We all have things that we are uneasy or uncomfortable with at times, and there are often things that we want to change. Communicating this can be very difficult, and as a result, we may become more or less comfortable with our uneasiness, often allowing it to lie dormant, re-directing it, or allowing it to compile. If we allow our uneasiness to build, it often ends up intensifying, having a more dampening effect on morale and causing more misunderstanding than with immediate communication.

This is something important to keep in mind throughout all relationships, including community work settings: authentic, timely communication without accusation can be healing and productive for the individual and the whole.

So much love to you all,

Renee <3