Transitions and New Year Blessings!

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Heavenly view at Glacier National Park (photo: Ian Bragan)

OK so it’s been a while! Sure has been an eventful last few months since my last writing..where to begin?!

During my travels, I tried to write every month to keep friends and family informed on my whereabouts and share about what kinds of projects and work I was doing in South America. I’d like to continue to use this space as a venue to share new ideas, projects, and inspiration. I am so grateful for all the support from loving friends and family not only  during my travels, but also in my daily life.

Reunited with one of the best... Mike Gula!

Reunited with one of the best… Mike Gula!

After a period of many transitions..coming back to USA, reconnecting with friends and family on the west coast, driving cross country… I am now in a new home in Hadley, MA and excited to settle in here (for now). Coming back to the states and back to my home of the abundant Pioneer Valley of Western MA has been so graciously smooth having a net of loving, supportive friends to catch me, opening their homes and hearts receiving me with so much love! Leap and the net will appear! THANK YOU to South Prospect Street and Simple Gifts Farm and everyone in between 🙂

To all of you, may 2013 be rich with adventure, love, light, laughs, good health, delicious food, and growth! A blessing from one of my recently new favorite authors, John O Donohue :

Snowy sunset on a farm I call home, Simple Gifts

Snowy sunset on a farm I call home, Simple Gifts

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.

May the flame of anger free you from falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder. 

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So far, 2013 is looking like a blessing of a year! With my new position as “Education and Community Engagement Coordinator” with a dynamite team at UMass Permaculture Initiative and an upcoming year-long yoga teacher training at Karuna Center for Yoga and Healing Arts  in a beautiful, welcoming community with the most inspirational of all teachers, Eileen Muir…balance will be a great goal of mine. During my travels last year,  I tasted the present moment and realized how delicious it is! And among many other things, noticed my tendency to fill every moment with committment. Although I deeply love my work in local agriculture and feel incredibly grateful for the abundance of meaningful work happening here in Western Mass, it is important for me (and others) to have time to cherish the present moment, breathing deeply.  Traveling revealed a lot about my personality, tendencies, and habits. One of my strongest “take-away” insights was that I do need help structuring this “free time” into my work-week. My increased practice at Karuna won’t do this for me, but most likely give me the tools to make this space and time for myself productive, healthy, and  free!UMass Amherst Permaculture logo

I am excited to weave this practice into the great work we’re doing with the Permaculture Initiative.  These projects excite and inspire me for the future of our local food system and higher education. From bringing gardens to local elementary schools (check out Grow Food Amherst!) to presenting the infinite possibilities of permaculture at the White House(!), this group has many great minds and hard working hands and Having been friends with many of its members and worked with the project indirectly (as a Student Farmer) for a few years, it has been INSPIRING and FUN to watch them GROW and to now be a part of it!

In addition to these two main activities, I am keeping my hands dirty at two of my favorite organic Western Mass farms that I call home Winter Moon Roots and Simple Gifts Farm! A lens in which I try to integrate all of these positions is wellness and body care for beginning farmers. I’ve been interested in this topic ever since I took a course with Julia Simonson and John Gerber (one of my biggest inspirations!). In these “Sustainable Agriculture” programs at universities and higher education institutions, often body care and wellness are left out.  In almost every field, but especially in the field in agriculture we use our bodies! And often inefficiently!

flexfarmThis year I will be hoping to focus on integrating my love of yoga and healing body work with my agricultural work. Setting holistic goals, like using breath efficiently in movement, awareness of alignment, using my left hand (non-dominant hand) to do more things (like brushing my teeth..have you ever tried it? 🙂 ) Am excited to work more with and give thanks to Lydia Irons (the flexible farmer!) and her healing body work focussing on hard-working manual laborers. A dear soul sister friend, Emily has also been instrumental in my  wellness goals with her blossoming business Sweetgrass Herbals…all of these inspirational, firey women doing wonderful, nourishing work to keep the seeds alive!

With a deep breath, I feel deep love, support and gratitude to be here now!

Lots of love and light to YOU, and all those you love too! (and the ones they love and the ones they love…)

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A Pacific Coast Adventure

Prettier than a postcard, Mt. Baker!

From the Pacific Coast of Southern Chile to Northern Washington, I sure have put on many miles! Feeling blessed to have been received and reconnect with my BEAUTIFUL family here on the West Coast USA.  Arriving in LA was sure a transition from living in quaint adobe structures and tents to LA lifestyle. But being picked up by my loving Aunt Thereze and her husband John sure made the transition more tolerable.

The best grandparents.

After a couple days in LA, I took a beautiful train south to reunite with my loving, generous and AWESOME grandparents in Oceanside, CA (north of San Diego).

Am so so so blessed and grateful to spend some fun time catching up and adventuring with them.  There in San Diego, I picked up Pacifico, my first car!! Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa, I now have an adventure-mobile to drive up the coast, reconnect with more friends and family, and continue exploring future career moves and opportunities.

Pacifico, my first car

Having family and friends about every  5 hours up the whole Pacific Coast sure makes travel fun, especially alone! Having worked so much and being involved with so many (awesome) projects while studying at UMass, am feeling blessed to have the time to explore the world of opportunities, projects, and inspiring work out there.

It is also a great time to reflect on all that I’ve learned, articulate my goals and ideas for future projects and studies, and connect with others doing inspiring work in the local agriculture movement.  This time has been wonderful to reflect on how deeply grateful I am for my education and influential mentors at UMass, especially John Gerber and Ruth Hazzard.

Andy selling greens in SF farmers market

After making a short but sweet trip for a long overdue visit, hike, and some laughs with my cousin Mike, I left Southern Cali and headed for the great north! In central/northern California I had a blast reconnecting with some former house-mates and great friends. Andy Mullin is  doing some great farm work in a cool little ag-town in the Bay area in Pescadero, CA at Blue House Farm.  It was a treat to spend a few fun days together catching up, picking apples, and laughing.  While in the Bay area, I visited one of the most inspiring student farms in our country, at UC Santa Cruz.  At this farm, they have over 40 apprentices and an impressive operation…experiential education at its finest! Felt a deep connection with this project and hope to work with it some day in the future.

The tallest, wisest trees…Ryan in the Redwoods


Excited to have a friend who just crossed the country on his BICYCLERyan Dunn and I met in the glorious Redwood Forest and camped for a few days at Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  What a beautiful place for our paths to cross, to catch up, go for great hikes, see some bears, share some incredible meals cooked by a campfire, and soak up LOTS of sun by the Eel River.  It takes great strength, determination, stamina and an open, loving mind and heart to accomplish what Ryan has and I’m grateful to have such productive and hard-working friends. Although many of us are off doing different things, we all share the search for a greater purpose or calling.

With my cousin Dustin’s wedding in Bellingham, WA as my destination to celebrate with family, I continued northward and made a stop in Eugene OR. Knowing that I’d be back in Oregon for a conference, I kept moving so I could squeeze in a few quality days with my super fun-loving Uncle John in Seattle. Although his hard-working world-traveling partner Allan was out of town, John and I had some fun exploring Seattle, visiting his favorite farmers market, and cooking some fabulous, fresh meals together.

Walking ’round Lake Washington

In Seattle we had a pre-wedding weekend reunion with some more Berquists…with my cousin Lisa’s new  sweet little ones…the family is growing!

Since I’ve never been north of San Francisco, I’ve loved every minute checking out the Pacific Northwest.  Arriving in Bellingham, I couldn’t believe the landscape around me. Incredible views of Mt Baker, the San Juan Islands, and thick evergreen forests…what a great place for a family to unite and my cousin to get married.  

Am SO happy and excited for Dustin and happy to welcome Emily to our family. A beautiful ceremony and celebration weekend filled with laughs and dancing!

THANK YOU everyone who made it a great time and

CONGRATULATIONS EMILY & DUSTIN!

After a few fun days with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Grant exploring their homeland of Bellingham, mountain bike rides to the State Park, hiking, and  camping at the breathtaking Mt. Baker, I began to shift my focus for my next move…Corvallis, Oregon!

Synchronistically, the Sustainable Ag Education Association (SAEA…check them out!) had their 5th annual conference at Oregon State University. With this year’s theme being Campus Food Systems, I was eager to particiapte in any way I could..as a volunteer, participant and helping facilitate some engaging discussions during our “open space” sessions…what a success! A great venue to connect with productive people doing great work!

Field trip to local farm during SAEA Conference

At the conference, we visited some local student farm models and enjoyed a 5 star local meal at the “grange”…if we’re going to talk about farm fresh and local food so much we had to practice eating it too 🙂

Inspired by the leaders, incredible organization, countless projects and research, I am . Grateful for this time to explore these opportunities and make new friends.  One of the most valuable experiences are the in-between times, not necessarily during the workshops but the mingling between sessions or on busrides to visit the farms. These conversations can lead to collaborations and bright futures.

It is when one asks, “so what do you do?” or “why are you here?” you really articulate your goals and listen to others share their passions.  Excited about what the future may bring, looking to deepen and explore my experience with agriculture education at the university level, I am hoping to continue my education both in and out of school.

Hoping to make it back to the east, my home coast, at least for a visit in the near future. Am missing my mom and dad, friends, and LUCY (my kitty!) Am so grateful to have places and people I miss (south prospect street!), more places to discover, and a world of opportunity ahead.  Although confusing at times, I am confident that things will work out the way they’re supposed to and try to remember this and give thanks with a deep breath each morning.

Sunrise at Mt. Hood with Crane!

THANK YOU to my dear friends and family who’ve supported me so much, opened their homes and hearts welcoming me back to the USA, shared laughs and good times.
LOTS OF LOVE! 🙂

Sarah

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Returning to the US of A!

Enjoying the Salt Flats in Northern Argentina with Annelies!

Wow! I`ve definitely let too much time fly by since my last update.  With so much happening each day, am not sure where to begin! July has been overflowing with all kinds of great adventures.  Reuniting with friends, running a big loop for the desert of Northern Argentina and Chile, always striving for the delicate balance of work/ learn and explore/ play and ALWAYS LEARNING!

Learning some tricks to make hearty bread with Maia in La Cumbre, CĂłrdoba, Argentina

Since I last wrote, I crossed into Argentina, where I reunited with a great friend, Annelies, from El Bolson, and together we explored Mendoza, Cordoba, Jujuy, and San Pedro de Atacama crossing back into Chile.  In our travels, we were lucky enough to immerse ourselves in the inspiring work that our friends are doing.  In this trip, I can`t believe the expansive WEB… a beautiful community of endless creative inspiring projects, positive hardworking friends, and just motivated fun people I have met.

Super Minga! Building a dome with super adobe with Santiago and friends…
Bioconstruction in action!

From building domes of super/hiper adobe with Santiago, Dani, y Maia, developing community spaces to give workshops with Diego Fabian, working in gardens making compost with Annelies, sleeping in tipis, celebrating full moon in the desert, meeting visionary farmers in Tilcara, and exploring some breathtaking landscapes, learning a new language (and its various accents)…this last chapter of travels has been truly a transformative and inspiring learning experience.

Annelies and I had  a great  northern adventure…from the North of Argentina we crossed back into CHILE in the desert San Pedro de Atacama, a breath taking bus ride took us through miles and miles and miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers) of absolute nothing, pure pure pure DESERT! A majestic, strong, and raw landscape that just facilitates a deep connection with the elements…the sun, the moon, the wind, the mountains…this environment facilitates a deep connection, time to  breathe deeply and connect to the deep beauty of our Mother Earth..a landscape so vast and endless sure is humbling and reminds me how small I am!

After having seen these wonders of the north Andes Mountains region, El Manzano the Eco Escuela (where I was back in March-May) was a-calling.  From the super north of Chile, I made my way back  down down down to El Manzano to participate (and help facilitate) an incredible two week Permaculture Design Course. Two weeks filled with theory, big ideas, valuable experience and practice in the field, living in community, sharing, growing and learning!  And now I am CERTIFIED with a Permaculture Design Certificate (or PDC) and connected to a huge international network of permaculturists all over the world!

The first and most fundamental principle of permaculture is observation. Opening up your eyes and reading, feeling, and connecting to your surroundings, paying attention to the brilliant patterns and rhythms of nature. From these patterns, we have a new perspective to view landscapes and make intelligent designs using the land wisely…un “Aprendizaje Transformativo” a constant learning process, a discipline.  El Manzano is a “living laboratory” a living university that offers rich and engaging experiences OUTSIDE of the classroom (using the forest and garden space as a learning space) and plants seeds of inspiration that facilitate growth on the personal level, community level and global level.

The forest: a living laboratory!
El Manzano, Chile

Right now, with the full moon rising, I too feel full of inspiration and gratitude to have these incredible tools in my pockets, news skills and exciting projects to develop. With all of these new ideas and perspectives, I hope to continue learning everyday and make a mega project that is a fusion of all my interests.

In just a few days, I LEAP into a new chapter…returning to USA. Will be a drastic transition after nearly 7 or 8 months living a backpacking lifestyle…however, looking forward to reconnecting with loving friends and family. Lots to look forward to: my cousin´s wedding, exploring the west coast, seeing family, and continuing to engage in local food movements, and apply what I`ve learned with more sustainable agricultural and educational projects.  AND eating fresh veggies that I´ve missed so much too! 🙂

Planting trees, getting our hands dirty

Reflecting on all of the beautiful new friends I´ve made…this new international family, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have seen so many beautiful places, a warm and historically rich culture, and connected with so many inspiring people…you know it has been a good adventure if you want to do the whole thing over again but backwards…impossible to do it all in one trip…I know I will be back! THANK YOU SOUTH AMERICA!

AND THANK YOU to all for your support during these exciting travels. Can`t wait to reconnect, share  photos and stories and hear all the great things YOU all have been doing.  MUCHAS GRACIAS 🙂  For now, back to the USA!

Lots of love, sending a big hug FILLED with the vibrant energy of the full moon

COMING SOON: “PROJECTS” page with links, videos and information of all the great sustainability projects I´ve found in my travels…an incredible network.. great if youre looking to travel and connecting with international agricultural projects…check back soon!

AND more photos and stories too!

In deep peace, Zapallar sunset

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Already June!?

A magical sunset… pure beauty of Zapallar, Pacific Coast Chile

Unbelievable how time really flies on the road! It is already June!! Hope this finds you all happy and healthy 🙂

SO much happens each day, especially when there is so much sunlight and the days are long and productive…don´t know where to begin! In the last month, I have seen so many productive projects, beautiful places, too-good-to-be-true sunsets, new friends, and new adventures…continuing to feel so blessed to be on this synchronistic journey.

After spending so much time in the formal education system, from kindergarten through college.. grateful for the fantastic education I´ve had, I´m eager to continue gaining experience OUTSIDE of the classroom… the world is our classroom! 🙂

Having graduated a year ago, been doing lots of reflecting on the work and projects I´ve done in the last year. It sure is clear that I have a passion for AGRICULTURE and LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS, and am excited for what the next year will bring. This trip sure has been a great experience to continue EXPLORING the possibilities…

Using the mind mapping tools that I learned in the Sustainable Food and Farming Program from John Gerber,  this tool helps me see (a great visual!) where my interests lie and all the connections that exist within my interests to help me set goals and do work that I really do love.

I look for more than just a job or career, but a lifestyle that is  a blend of all the things I love about agriculture, always stimulated, always learning! A word I love in the spanish language is ¨aprendizaje¨…a friend translanted it to me as the  learning process or adventure of life.  Each destination I´ve traveled, I´ve learned a new skill or lesson that I will carry with me forever.

EL MANZANO

After 6 action-packed weeks in Eco Escuela El Manzano , I´m so grateful for all I´ve learned at this sacred learning space in the forest in the Bio-Bio Region of Chile.  Fertile with wisdom, knowledge, hard work, and inspiration, this place has inspired me deeply, planting many seeds and great ideas to water and grow into career goals. I hope to return to this place…thank you El Manzano!

PROJECTS: After transitioning into work focused in the gardens after 2 great weeks with EQUIPO CONSTRUCCIÓN NATURAL, I worked on many things but mostly with TOMATOES and SEEDS!

What a harvest! Just 300 kilos of organic tomatoes

My friends Felipe and Ursula are doing an awesome project cultivating organic tomatoes and making 2 value added products: organic  salsa and dried tomatoes.  With I couple other great volunteers, we harvested almost 300 kilos of tomatoes and practiced the process of drying tomatoes in a dehydrated that runs with firewood…lots of work but so delicious! A great experience!

Equipo Tomate…thank you for all your help Erika, Tania, and Flavia!

This project touches on many of my interests in agriculture…growing a product organically, processing it, creating value added products with the abundance, developing, creating and participating in local markets or eco-ferias…lots of challenges along the way, but meaningful work!

SANTIAGO AND VALPARAISO:

After El Manzano, with a bunch of volunteers and friends we left for the big city…Santiago! Intimidated at first to return to city life after spending so much time tranquila in the forest, it was exciting to explore new territory and some more fantastic projects. The network of permaculture and sustainable projects in Chile is huge and growing more everyday. Am very grateful to have found such a productive international family…

Browsing an impressive collection of organic seeds at a seed exchange in Valparaiso.

 FOR THE LOVE OF SEEDS: 
Having learned a lot about the practice of saving seeds in El Manzano, South America`s seed saving network is HUGE and doing some really great seed exchanges.  This practice seems to be forgotten among many farmers in the USA, or at least in my little experience, many farmers buy new seeds each year with the availability from the many seed companies that exist in USA.
But we really miss finishing that last part of the beautiful cycle of cultivating our own food. From planting the seed, caring for the baby plant, harvest, and that´s it. But here on many farms, they leave a portion of their crops to go to seed and then harvest the seeds to select and save for future seasons. Seed exchanges are more and more popular here too, farmers working together, getting excited about increasing organic cultivation and biodiversity…I love it and eager to learn more !
ECO-FERIAS:
With my roots in Farmers Markets, I couldn´t help but get familiar with what is happening in Santiago with the local and organic food market movement.  My friend Luis and I checked out one of the Eco-Ferias in La Reina in Santiago…was inspired by all the great products and creativity of the farmers! Felt at home among the vendors, each market has its own energy and unique products to offer. Lots of potential for our generation to make our own jobs…GOOD, MEANINGFUL WORK that we are passionate about.
 
My friends Tania and Flavia have started their own business Herviva. Although the project is in its infancy, their mission is to bring organic heirloom seeds, pots made from recycled materials, medicinal plants, and more to the city… encouraging people that they can connect with plants and grow things on their own even in their own apartments in the city.
Last week, we presented the project at a conference in Santiago and shared some ideas and great conversations with local city residents. Was so inspiring to see such bright young women fearlessly starting their own businesses…thank you hermanitas Tania and Flavia! Hope to continue working with them to develop this great project.
RETREAT TO PARADISE:

After Valparaiso, the ocean was calling me. Having the great opportunity to stay with my friend Paloma and her loving family in the Pacific Coastal town, Zapallar, I spent about 10 days in this paradise.
When I arrived, I felt like I have been waiting my whole life to come to this place.  Extra quiet because it is winter, this place has an energy of deep beauty and peace.  The landscape of turquoise waters, powerful waves, and incredible sunsets facilitated a very wholesome mind-body connection…taking long walks, deep breaths, practicing yoga and feeling connected to the rhythms of our Mother Earth.
Words cannot express how grateful I am to have visited this place and make such great new friends…and a killer compost system outside of Paloma´s house! A messy task digging through rotten vegetables deep inside of a concrete well, but we definitely had fun working together 🙂
So how is that for a summary of all the great things happening down here in South America? And to think I´ve only skimmed the surface! Am so grateful for this experience to get some more hands on experience and inspiration, what a beautiful learning adventure! And how awesome to be received in the homes by so many friends to never have to stay in a hotel or hostel! AND to have a dear friend from home, Lisa Piazza, exploring Santiago too!
I miss you, dearest friends and family, professors and UMASS, the Pioneer Valley in summertime, all the great projects, SO SO SO much and can`t wait to bring all this inspiration back with me and  unite with you all  in the USA with lots of big hugs!
Being away from home sure made me appreciate lots of things that I take for granted.  Not sure where my next step in this trip will lead me, but will be in touch!
THANK YOU for your continued support of my travels! Sending all my love and a big smile from Chile!
Love,
Sarah

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Another month filled with adventure!

Hard to believe another month has passed…so fast! With each day filled with work, play, learning new skills, making  new friends, and sharing, I continue to feel filled filled filled with GRATITUDE. This trip has sure been an action-packed learning experience!

A beautiful day with friends on Pacific Coast near Concepcion, Chile..gorgeous photo by mi hermana Eva

WHERE AM I NOW??

I’ve covered a lot of ground since my last note in El Bolson, Argentina.  Now I write from EcoEscuela El Manzano, a farm / permaculture / sustainability education center in the Biobio Regio of Chile (just a few hours South of Santiago). This place is just LOADED with cool projects, great people, and infinite possibilities. Check out the link!

TO THE MOUNTAINS AND BACK…

From the homey-hostel of El Pueblito,  mi hermana Valentina and I went for an adventure into the most beautiful part of the mountains in the Lago Puelo area of Argentina. In the mountains, especially in Patagonia, I feel so CONNECTED. Connected to rhythms of Mother Nature, the elements: WATER (am a mermaid at heart, a true Picses), sun, fire, air, connected to myself, my breath, emotions, goals, hopes and fears…LIVING in the PRESENT MOMENT with grattitude, amor y alegria!

(Pictures coming soon!)

Together Valen and I went to a Refugio called Motoco, a lengthy breathtakingly beautiful mountainous trek along Rio Azul, definitely one of the best experiences on my trip so far.  After Motoco, I continued sola to Los Hitos, Chile…how cool to walk along the border in the forest! Spending a few days in peace by myself in the mountains left me in awe and CONNECTED to the pure beauty, healing power, and energy of Mother Nature.

WHAT AM I DOING HERE?

Although it was tough, I left El Bolson and continued on this journey. A theme that has been popping up throughout this trip…when you find a place that is just SO beautiful, how do you know when it is time to leave and keep traveling? From El Bolson, I passed through Bariloche, said a temporary goodbye to Argentina and HELLO CHILE!

Gratefully, I am traveling with a great loving community of friends, ever changing and growing, working together and learning together each day. Together our traveling group of do-gooders 🙂 helped facilitate this 2 week natural building, permaculture and sustainability themed course with some inspirational facilitators, organization called WASI, in this truly unique EcoEscuela El Manzano.

What a great group! WASI workshop family. Photo by Eva!

During the two weeks of the course, we got our hands and feet dirty, had many great late night fires with beautiful music, learned, worked, shared, lived, and laughed together in community. Now the course has ended, and a smaller group including myself are staying to continue “terminaciones” or finishing building the “Green Campus” a remarkable natural structure where courses are held, delicious meals are shared, a place with infinite potential and vida de la tierra!

Practicing ‘Revoque Fino’ a new technique I learned working on the ‘green campus’ structure at El Manzano.

After a good few weeks learning about natural construction, I’ve shifted gears and am focusing on some great work in the gardens here in El Manzano.  It’s a great feeling to be overwhelmed by all the great potential and ideas of projects to do here.  After spending a couple great years working with UMass Extension on various projects, I never would have imagined all the tomato scouting and would come in handy so fast! How grateful I am for every minute of my education at UMass Amherst! The Sustainable Food and Farming program prepared me so well, all thanks to John Gerber! I continued to be inspired by his wise words and dedication to improving local food systems…Also the Amherst Farmers Market continues to be a successful and inspiring model of a community working together for a better food system.

Getting excited about tomato diseases! Thank you Eva for capturing all these great moments 🙂

WHATS NEXT?

For now, I will stay here for a bit, STIMULATED and grateful to further develop all that I learned at school and work on a design to increase food production here in El Manzano. Passing my days learning about seed saving, permaculture design, and fantasizing about all the great work yet to be done here. SEED SAVING is a practice I’m excited to learn more about because it certainly is a lost practice among many farms due to the availability of seeds from seed companies. However if farmers know how to save their own seeds they can reclaim their independence and increase diversity of their crops…how cool!

Grifen, Javiera, Paulina, and all my friends have been great mentors in my journey, and I’m excited to continue working and learning with them. As for my beautiful friends and family back in the USA, I miss you all SO SO much. As I continue to travel and explore South America- feeling like I’m in the right place at the right time- I feel blessed to have such a loving and supportive network of friends and family back home. Since I’m so so far away, I don’t think I’ll be making it to the wedding of my dear cousin Eric and Jenny but I send a heart felt CONGRATULATIONS 🙂 !!! I look forward to seeing you all, hearing your stories, seeing all the great projects you’re working on, and giving LOTS of hugs when I return! SENDING ALL MY LOVE FROM CHILE!

Gracias por todas las fotos Eva!

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Hola dearest family and friends!

Although I am far, far away from home, I hope you all know how grateful I am to have such loving and supportive friends and family in my life! 🙂 Hopethis finds you all well, happy, and enjoying life.

I write you from one of the most beautiful places in the whole world:  El Bolson in Patagonia, Argentina.  A town in the HEART of the grand Andes mountains, the pure crystal waters of Rio Azul…surrounded by beauty in all directions! My lifestyle on a farm, living so close to la naturaleza has kept me distant from the computer, so I wanted to write a note to updateto my family and friends whom I love so much! 🙂

Can´t believe how fast time flies!  In just two months I have traveled very far and seen many BEAUTIFUL places.  Having traveled with a dear friend and made MANY new friends… I am FILLED with GRATITUDE for the community and friendship I have found on my journey!

It sure was hard to leave my home in Amherst that was (and continues to be) a home filled with great people, great food, great energy, and enough love we really didn´t need heat.  Both UMass and the Amherst communities will always be a home for me, and I look forward to returning because surely it will be filled with great projects (WOW ! WAY TO GO UMASS PERMACUTLURE and UMASS STUDENT FARM), the freshest veggies, and the best of friends.  Indeed, I was happy as a clam having graduated from the sustainable agriculture program that I loved so much, learning so much from my work with Amherst Farmers Market, UMass Extension, Winter Moon Farm, however…

My adventure-loving spirit was craving areturn to South America… and here I am! After a whirlwind of an adventure 3 years ago, I am back with time to explore more of the beautiful nooks and crannies. Emily and I began in January in Costa Rica, our first destination was a beautiful beach town, filled with many travelers, Tamarindo. Although touristy, itsmost beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and glorious sunsets made it a great place to begin our journey together.

Montezuma, Costa Rica was our favorite destination because it was just filled with happy people, great energy, filled with beauty. We celebrated the full moon with a diverse group of both travelers and locals on the beach with a fire and songs, watched 80 baby turtles hatchand be released into the great big ocean, and swam in waterfalls.

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We continued on to work on a cacao farm of our friends Gregory and Joseph in Caimito Ecuador. After a wild adventure to get to the farm nestled in the great big forest in Northern Ecuador, we spent almost two weeks learning a totally new form of agriculture…planting trees of cacao, orange, lemon, and many more in the tropics! Was hard work, and a fantastic experience to work intimately with a crop that I consume (sometimes way more than I should)…cacao!  In our time on the farm I learned so much, about permaculture, Madre Tierra, tropical plants and climate, what not to wear when working in the jungle, and a lot about myself…filled with gratitude for this experience.  It made me a stronger person inside and out.

Continuing on to ARGENTINA! I arrived in Mendoza, a place I love so much  AND hope to spend more time, but quickly began my journey south, on the most beautiful bus ride of my life, to arrive on the farm and permaculture education center CIDEP, in a part of El Bolson Argentina called Mallin Ahogado.

Living in a tent for a month and working with a grand family of about 20 others to prepare for a big series of workshops that took place in mid February called BIOCONSTRUYENDO.I can´t express how grateful I am to be a part of the CIDEP community…a new family!  This place received me with open arms, gave me great big hugs, filled my brain with knowledge, worked my body hard, made me laugh and cry and WOW how lucky I am!  My work on the farm was primarily in natural construction, a new topic that I am eager to learn more about and am more excited each day. I plan to write a lot more in detail about the projects we worked on, but for now just know the work we are doing is just fantastico! J AND all in Spanish. Getting better every day…wow I really do love the language! Even my dreams are in Spanish now!

I just left the farm last week and find myself in one of the most gorgeous hostels in El Bolson called El Pueblito.  I am living here for a bit as a volunteer, working on improving and expanding the garden here in exchange for a beautiful place to be, filled with great people…both travelers and folks from the farm, and delicious food!

I celebrated my birthday with an adventure to LAGO PUELO with my dear friends from CIDEP and delicious cakes and fiesta in El Pueblito last night, filled with gratitude. This weekend, I´m hoping to adventure into the mountains for a while and then think about heading north.

The rest of my journey is unknown. Eager to continue learning, continuing my education beyond the university, meet new friends and farms, and discovering new places FILLED WITH GRATITUDE for the endless opportunities and possibilities I continue on this great adventure…. STAY TUNED 🙂

THANK YOU!

CON TODO MI AMOR,

Love,

Sarah

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