For centuries, various clans of Amish families & settlements have come together under various traditions to celebrate a holistic vitality & sense of community. Probably most notable of these traditions would be “barn-raising,” wherein dozens of Amish males draft, assemble, and cosntruct an entire barn of several hundred to thousand square feet within the course of a day. The physical, as well as the societal, manifestations of solidarity can be readily seen and interpreted.
Now, why would I be talking of Amish folks and barn-raisings in a place like New Mexico, where either phenomenon could be arguably considered a novelty? In a refreshing allusion to Amish workings, our Santa Fe Youth Food Cadre raised an entire greenhouse (as well as caulked and assembled a planting bench within this house) this past Wednesday at Earth Care.
Granted, we had the luxuries (or the vices?) of battery-powered drills, modern galvanized steel screws, and readily assembled greenhouse framing materials. Yet, like the Amish, we gathered dozens of our members and fellow partners together outside on an unusually balmy February day with the mission of building a locale of communal function & unity. Some of us secured base frames while others screwed Lexan siding, vents, doorframes, and roof trusses into place. Some of us cleared, leveled, and raked the gravel bed where we were building to ensure a square, solid foundation for the greenhouse. Some of us caulked siding expsoures to ensure stronger insulation for the greenhouse on cold New Mexico nights. Some of us assembled a planting bench that now runs the 8 x 12 foot length to hold and foster future plant growth. Yet, in whatever task we performed, we knew what we were building, for what, and for whom. Best of all, towards the day’s end, when some of the Cadre held an Agricultural Conference meeting, they held it inside the newfound gorgeousness of our Greenhouse, our “Casa de Verde” as one of our members, Liana, noted.
The power of community and the gorgeousness of greenhouse raising raise much questions and at least as many lessons for how we can all collectively cultivate well-founded food systems and communities alike.