Maltby Property (the future MA Center PNW) Update
August is coming to a close and the new permaculture-based kitchen garden here in Maltby, the future home of the MA Center in the Northwest, is bursting with life and blessing us with beauty and abundance.
In a recent interview, Mechas, an Amma devotee and one of the primary permaculture gardeners at Maltby, described how the garden came about. Permaculture is a holistic system of design, and one first observes the land for a year to learn about the natural rhythms of the place before beginning to plant and grow things. But even as this observation period was just getting started, Brahmachari Dayamrita Chaitanya enthusiastically encouraged everyone involved to "just plant something!". And so the kitchen garden began.
The location of the garden was chosen due to its close proximity to the kitchen. The practical idea is that the closer the garden is to the kitchen, the easier it is to come and go to work in the garden, as well as to harvest vegetables for each meal.
The initial garden crew invited permaculture expert Michael Pilarski to come out, walk around the property and share some of his extensive knowledge of permaculture, gardening, and ecology. With Michael's help it was quickly discovered that the location of the soon-to-be garden did not have very rich soil.
Mechas came up with several beautiful designs, and in the end everyone agreed on a circular design that is reminiscent of a spider's web. Next, because the soil was not naturally rich, compost was brought in.
Compost was purchased because there were not yet enough residents generating the compost needed to build up the garden. Due to the high water table, the garden crew used sod dug up from the area of the soon-to-be-garden itself, and piled them up in curved rows to create raised beds, in order to lift the beds above the wet earth. Compost, cardboard and more compost were then piled in layers on top of the grass pieces, in order to create fertile soil beds.
The plantings at first might have seemed chaotic, created by all of the enthusiastic devotees and sevites donating plants and time and sharing what they had. By the time of Mother's arrival in June, all of the hard work and generosity had led to the wonderful and magical experience that is the garden today. Amma gazed out over the garden during her stay at the house and several people have commented that the growth of the plants in the garden seemed to accelerate after her visit.
If you walk through the garden now, you will find an abundance of cucumber, purple cabbage, peas, fava beans, tomatoes, kale, squash, chard, lettuce, onions, chives, strawberries, sunflowers, and so many other beautiful vegetables, as well as basil, rosemary, lavender, tulasi, and flowers of every color of the rainbow.
If you have yet to see the garden in person, it is not too late to come visit and witness the results of so much love and hard work of so many devotees, and of course, the blessings of Mother and her Grace. It is almost unbelievable that the garden was conceived only six months ago, in February of this year.
As part of our spiritual practice, the devotees of the area reserve the fourth Saturday of every month for doing seva (selfless service) on the property. There are a wide variety of jobs to be done on these Saturday seva days: everything from the very physically demanding, such as moving rocks or spreading mulch, to gentle tasks, such as sitting at a table shelling peas.
The Saturday Seva Day starts at 9:30 AM and goes until 4:00 PM. A light lunch is served and there is chanting afterwards. Everyone is welcome to come for part or all of the day. Those who are coming from out of town are welcome to stay overnight by pre-arrangement.
Contact Yasas at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about participating in the Maltby property seva, or if you want to contribute to the permaculture design process.