“Alright Plainsong Folk, mingle amongst the Hebrews.”
When you feel called to help renew both the land and the Church you find yourself in the most fascinating places. This time it was a young adult fellowship program tucked away in the Northwest corner of Connecticut called Adamah Farm. Adamah is a program of Hazon, a Jewish organization focused on cultivating health and sustainability in the Jewish world and beyond.
One of the turning points that led to Plainsong Farm occurred when Nurya discovered Adamah while reading Fred Bahnson’s book Soil and Sacrament. This fall was the first time any of us actually went there.
The Adamah Fellowship is a two to three-month program for adults ages 20-35 that integrates organic agriculture, farm-to-table living, Jewish learning, community building, social justice and spiritual practice. The reason we decided to visit Adamah (other than it sounds awesome!) is that it is something we hope to replicate here at the farm. This trip was a post season immersive planning session that started the ball rolling toward program planning here at the farm. We left for Connecticut the Sunday after our Farm CSA ended and returned the following Wednesday.
Adamah is a program of a larger retreat and conference center. Upon arriving, you are greeted with a sign saying: “It’s time to slow down.” Believe me, slowing down is the feeling you get when you are there. Before you even get into the retreat center you are already forced to slow down by the hilling terrain of the region. The curves and contours of the road getting to Adamah make you better aware of where you are at through the necessary focus and concentration of staying on the road. The feel of the place is much like a rustic summer camp – dense woods with trails, well worn wooden buildings, and a calmness that is constant except when you are near the migrating herd of kiddos who attend the Teva environmental education program at the center.
During our stay we were able to observe and participate in some of the day-to-day activities of the fellows. Beginning at 6:30am every morning we gathered in a yurt for meditation, prayer, song, and some well needed yoga. These spiritual practices helped to begin the day in a posture of gratitude as well as helped our ideas of Godly living sink into our bodies. As Christians within a Jewish context there was a little culture adjustment necessary but with the way things were done – very honest and raw – nothing seemed foreign; I just wished I had finished my Hebrew language courses at Seminary because it would have made singing a little easier.
Throughout the day the fellows engaged in farm chores, educational classes, and communal eating. You understood right away that the program was highly immersive and intimate. You are never really alone or even have alone space to retreat to. The intentional living aspect of the program stood out as something you do not see many other places. While you wonder how tiring it would be not to have personal space for 3 solid months you do see that young adults in the Adamah program come out of it understanding what community truly looks like with all its beautiful and ugly parts.
The staff of Adamah (Shamu, Rebecca, and Janna) were truly amazing people. Their heart for the fellows, and for the land, and for God was evident within the first moments of meeting them. It was inspiring to see that a program like Adamah can look really good on paper but it really takes a certain kind of staff to make it all happen.
As we reflect on our recent trip we are excited for what our future holds for us and our community at Plainsong Farm. Amidst observing the young adults and having conversations with Adamah staff we had a lot of time to envision and plan for our own programs back in West Michigan. For 2018 we are looking to update and continue some pilot projects from last year (Sabbath on the Farm) as well as teaching our new Eating Together Faithfully curriculum based around nourishing community. But probably the most important thing we plan to do in 2018 we will be planning, fundraising, and leading some pilot sessions for a young adult program we hope to begin in 2019.
Our trip to Adamah helped us to see that creating a space for young adults to grow toward God together through meaningful work on the land is possible and can create a lasting practice to support the communities which they eventually root and ground themselves.