Last weekend, Saturday, May 7th 2016, was “work day” at Kroka Expeditions. Kroka is an amazing place where youth can experience the wilderness in a hands-on, adventurous way. Students are taught new skills related to farming, camping, and wilderness survival, as well as how to live in community with animals, nature, and each other.
Kroka is both a working farm and an expedition camp, where students and educators can take trips in the wilderness. I had the pleasure of volunteering at Kroka in the summer and fall of 2011 for brief stints of time – a week in August and 3 day weekends here and there throughout the fall season. I worked with 5th graders and got to know people in the Kroka community. Working in the soil, sleeping under the trees, swimming in hidden ponds, carrying a boat on my shoulders, milking cows, feeding the chickens, and learning to cook and live outdoors with other children and adults who knew a lot about the land was a wonderful, life-changing experience for me.
Now, in May 2016, my husband John and I returned to Kroka to serve the community for a day. We were among many other dedicated volunteers and community members who joined hands to plant trees, build structures, clean up, prepare the farm garden, get the berry plants ready, and much more. We came together for a potluck lunch midday, abundant with homemade foods, including fresh salad from Lynne’s garden at Kroka. I drank some raw milk from Lynne’s cows with my lunch – it tasted like absolute heaven. It is creamy and fresh, so delicious, and I loved drinking it back when I worked at Kroka.
Before the meal, Misha and Lynne, Kroka’s owners, gathered us in a community circle and we all held hands. They led us in a prayer and blessing. We also went around the circle and introduced ourselves, and sang a song in unison about “being the light.” It was wonderful.
For the bulk of the day, John and I worked on building a fence around the cow pasture. We dug holes and put the posts in, filled the holes, and secured the posts. John did the digging, and I held the level to make sure the post stayed steady as we put it into the ground. I packed the ground around the post and searched for rocks and stones (about the size of my hand) in a nearby stream, to fill in the holes.
The dirt that we dug up out of the ground was beautiful. The top layer of soil was darker and more loose; as John dug deeper the soil turned into cool, sweet smelling brown-gray clay. I was reminded of a class trip I took in first grade to a river where we dug clay and made small animal sculptures. I made a small gray wolf, and we dried them in a pottery kiln before taking them home. Since then, the smell and feel of clay has always been special.
In some spots on the field (those closer to the pond and stream); the holes filled up with water as we reached the water table. Those posts required more stones to help keep the post steady and firm.
There were many fun moments during the day. Here are a few: I mentioned wanting to have a four-leaf clover and John looked around and found me one in under a minute!; helping another group plant a willow tree near the pond when they needed some extra assistance; driving to and from Kroka and stopping at a small market cafe in New Hampshire for some much needed coffee as we drove home through the mountain fog in late in the afternoon; chatting with Misha and Lynne when we arrived and catching up on each others lives; John getting to talk about his parent’s farm in Washington State; and using the composting outhouse, which smells like sawdust. Many of these experiences are captured in the photos, below.
I am so grateful to have spent time at Kroka, enjoying the peace and wisdom of nature and the farm; and doing so with my love, and old friends.
Have you spent time in a forest, or an a farm, lately? What do you enjoy most about being outside? Is there a certain place (whether indoors or outdoors) that you feel most comfortable?
Thank you to Kroka for the many lessons it provides to students, volunteers, families, and the community, and thank you for the opportunity to connect with the earth.