A Week at Deep Dirt Farm

A week at Deep Dirt Farm

Kate adds extra salt to the fresh duck eggs we fry for breakfast in the outdoor kitchen. Like four times more salt than I usually use, and I am not on a low salt diet. This daughter of a Welsh farming family traded her verdant wet birthplace for the desert long ago, and her body craves salt to help her retain the precious moisture sucked out by the dry desert air. Kate has been on a mission to conserve moisture and live resiliently in the desert for more than three decades and her 30 acre property in Patagonia, Arizona serves as a demonstration site for ecological restoration, food production, water management strategies and dancing with the sacred feminine.

The duck eggs are a great example of the abundance that comes from thoughtful integration with the environment. The ducks thrive on the plagues of grasshoppers and other insects that would destroy the tender garden plants if not kept in check. They weed and fertilize as they play and, contrary to the concept of ‘work’, reward the gardeners with eggs in exchange for the privilege.

Standing on a ridge overlooking Deep Dirt Farm and the broad watershed in which it is nestled challenges my preconceived notion of ‘desert’. The ridges and valleys form a ruffled pattern that has obviously been created by the forces of water and erosion over millennia. Clumping native grasses cover the land in soft green waves that blur in and out of focus as they rustle in the breezes beneath the thin shade of widely spaced oak and mesquite trees.

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