Potato Planting and Potato Patties
Food,What?! went to work on its organic field this week, where interns planted rows of potatoes and onion shoots, in clay-red soil. Potatoes were placed in the ground at the depth of about a foot, in a trench dug into the center of the row. Then we turned the soil back over the spuds. The eyes of the potatoes will sprout shoots that branch out, sending green leaves and stalks into the air, and forming new potatoes underground.
We cleaned off the spades and shovels, drank some of the wonderful farm water, and switched to planting young onions. The soil had to be amended with compost, then the onions broken apart and planted in staggered rows, five inches between each plant. We planted yellow bulb onions, candy onions, and olympic onions; enough to provide for forty families.
We finished planting as the heat of the afternoon sun beat down. When the field was cleared of tools and the new crops watered, the group gathered in the circle tent to practice communication skills.
Doron asked us to give him every possible direction necessary to put an orange slice in his hand, into his mouth. The interns yelled commands all at once, and for a few confused minutes, Doron swung his arms about, and bent his elbows, and opened his mouth, and completely failed to eat the orange. Finally, interns Alyssa and Maribel slowly walked Doron through the steps to eat the orange.
The point of the exercise, Doron said, was that communication is something we take for granted. To practice listening and giving directions, we broke into teams of two. One person drew a shape that the other described; the first time we were able to ask questions, the second, only one person knew what the shape was and only directions could be spoken. The group was sharp though, and most of the drawings were nearly identical to the target shape.
Then we told each other short story's about our weekend. We had to recite our partner's story back to them, as closely as possible. To listen effectively, interns turned toward their partner, maintained eye contact, and didn't interrupt the story with comments out of turn.
When we had cooled down in the shade, Abby called us to the kitchen to make potato pancakes. The recipe called for 5 potatoes, shredded with a cheese grater and squeezed dry. The potato mash was mixed with five eggs, half and onion, a half cup of whole wheat flour, and two teaspoons of salt. We took turns mixing the ingredients, then cleaned the counter and started frying pancakes. The potato patties were dropped into searing hot grape-seed oil and turned until crispy and fried on both sides. We made a tray of 17 potato cakes, which were scarfed down as soon as they were cool enough to eat.