Hello from Washington!

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“Wow, when I bought these leopard print pajama pants I never thought I’d be wearing them while doing yoga in a yurt on a farm in central Washington, where I live and work” is a weird/cool thought I had the morning I started writing this (weeks ago, now), along the same sentiment of many other thoughts I have had lately.

When I try to think of where I was in life a year ago, I can’t even exactly remember, but I know for sure I wasn’t expecting to be here. I had a lot of dreams and expectations, and one of them was to be living on a farm, but of all of the paths I was looking at this was the least likely to happen in my mind then.

I am realizing lately that this blog is more personal and photo-based than information based since my lifestyle has changed so much. Gone are the days of productivity tracking and personal kanbans (such things aren’t really needed on the farm). I miss quantifying and tracking, but for now farm life is showing me a different way of tracking work progress (seeing crops grow, harvesting, cleaning, etc). It’s also shown me that more than tracking progress I am mostly tracking total failure over at my Public Goal Accountability Experiment, but I’m enjoying updating the spreadsheet (when I do… which isn’t often).

I’m toying with the idea of changing this blog layout to cater to this change, but really stuck on whether or not to move the old blog posts to another URL (I like this current design a lot) and make a new photojournal type blog, or to just change the entire design and leave the entries as is. I guess it doesn’t matter to anyone except me, but I have been thinking about it enough to want to mention it. For now, this post is more photojournal based, but with the old design so it may be wonky. Meh.

That said, some notable photos from my last days in California:


OAK -> PHL

We had an emotional graduation dinner and I said my goodbyes at Green String. The last morning was bittersweet, I was relieved to finally not share a living space with eight other humans, but knowing there will never be a time in my life when all eight of these humans are in the same place again felt weird and sad. After three very dry months, it rained the morning of our departure from the intern house, a sad grey drizzle that I didn’t believe when I heard it. It felt relatable and appropriate. Sarah picked me up and we headed to Oakland for two days to hang out and readjust to the real world. We had a blast, she introduced me to Haight street, I went on a random last minute date to remind myself other single humans exist, Phil came to visit and have dinner with me the night before I left (one of the most memorable dinners of my existence, both from the food and the company), and then I went home (more on this word, “home,” in another entry soon) to spend thirteen days seeing family and visiting friends.

Fifteen days in the real world was overwhelming, to say the least. It was so nice to see family, but it was really weird and hard to adjust to having so much free time after working for six days a week and being constantly surrounded by people. I kept my visit home a secret, partially because my mom was sick/having surgery (she is okay) and I wasn’t sure how much time I would have to go out, and partially because I wanted to surprise people as much as I could and just show up places. I successfully surprised two of my best friends, and it was totally worth it. I also got to spend time with a handful of other close friends but didn’t see everyone I had hoped to (Sorry South Philly squad!) because of my mom’s aforementioned surgery etc. Some photos from home below.


PHL -> WA

I left Philly on September 6th and flew into Seattle where one of my best friends Mary picked me up to hang out for a few days. Mary moved to Port Orchard (just outside Seattle) with her husband a year ago and I haven’t seen her since, so it was great to spend some time together before the farm. We explored Port Orchard, spent a day in Seattle doing tourist-y things, and then had a pretty awesome brunch inside a VW bus in Bremerton before I took the ferry back to Seattle to meet Ginger (our farm does deliveries to Seattle so we timed it so she could pick me up). Seattle scenes below.


Seattle/Port Orchard -> Cloudview Ecofarms

Ginger and I drove through Washington and caught up on life as she prepared me for what to expect on the farm. The air changed as we neared farm land, city smells of people and pollution were traded for fresh air with hints of mint and manure, depending on which direction the wind was blowing (they grow tons of mint out here to be processed into oil).

I guess I should actually talk about the farm I’m at now, eh?

I am working at Cloudview Ecofarms in Royal City, Washington surrounded by the Cascade mountains. We are near Seattle so everyone asks about the rain, but my farm is technically located in a mountain desert. Cloudview is about 2-3ish hours East of Seattle and equidistant West to Spokane. On clear days, we can see Mount Rainier, and on magical days I hear you can see The Cascades, Rainier, and The Olympic mountains. The locals tell me on these days you say “The mountains are out today.” I haven’t had the opportunity to say it yet, but am eager to.

This farm is shockingly different from Green String. For one, there are only six adults living here total (and two kids). Secondly, I get to live alone! I have my own apartment, which is one-half of a rancher that has been separated in two. My manager Whitney lives next door and the walls are pretty thin, so it’s like having a really non-invasive roommate, which is kind of nice in a strange way? Cloudview does a lot more large scale harvests and fortunately has machinery to help with cleaning it all (see carrots being cleaned below)! Bob was pretty anti-machines, but I have to admit I am grateful to have these to use (especially when cleaning thousands of potatoes). We are also in the middle of nowhere, so civilization is less readily available than in Petaluma. Whitney told me this during my interview, and I WANTED to be in a more secluded area, but it’s been a really huge and sometimes difficult adjustment. My saving grace is that we take out deliveries multiple times per week, and I’ve been able to take our Friday Spokane delivery most weeks and hang out in town for a little while to get some vitamin “P” (people).

There’s so much to say about Cloudview, but I feel like this post has already become monstrous so I am going to dedicate another entire post to life at Cloudview (vs. Green String). ‘Til then, enjoy some photos from my first few days at the new farm:

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About tamarahala

Tamara is currently living in Petaluma, CA as an intern at Green String Institute! She is a mixed media artist, student aerialist, and former neuroscientist.

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