We are Rachel and Chris Nafis, a couple that has unwittingly found itself with a desire to farm. We like to think of ourselves as fairly competent at our chosen professions, but those professions are not farming, so we really have no idea what we’re doing. Nevertheless, we have developed a love for growing and humanely raising organic food, and one of us (Chris) was looking for a second career, so we ended up here.
In January 2012 we were graciously offered the opportunity to farm an unused piece of land in Lemon Grove, CA, and we used this opportunity to start a small urban farm and modest 20-member organic egg and vegetable CSA. In one sense we blundered our way through our first growing year, but in another, it was a huge success. In August 2012 we were offered a position as caretakers on a 45-acre ranch in mountainous Jamul, CA. Four months later we moved from our little place in the city to an old, but slightly renovated trailor on Rancho Vivo, along with our two dogs, 50 chickens, top-bar bee hive, and composting Red Worms. Our little home was powered by solar panels and heated with wood from the property. In 2013 we made another wild attempt to start a farm from next to nothing, but this time with the help of a tractor, greenhouse, more space, and improved planning, not to mention a year of experience under our belt. In 2013 we welcomed 2 Yorkshire pigs, Lucille and Ramona, 12 Bourbon Red (heritage) turkeys, 2 Nubian milk goats, and a handful of rare egg-laying ducks to our menagerie of farm animals.
In the fall of 2013 it was clear our time at the ranch had come to an end. We tore down the farm, harvested the turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner, and purchased a small two-bedroom house in the city of San Diego with a large yard and a wood stove. We have since turned our yard into a large garden, are still losing count of our 34? hens, roosters, and ducks, but are taking a break from farming for the time being. We are expecting a baby come summer.
This blog is our story.
Our entrance into the world of farming has come from two directions. As a nurse, Rachel has become increasingly aware of the importance of eating healthy food as well as the danger of eating most of the terrible, processed food that is so typical of the American diet. Inspired by the likes of Barbara Kingsolver, Dorothy Day, Michael Pollan and Kristin Kimball, she got us growing a wide variety of vegetables and raising chickens in our backyard. As a pastor and student of theology, Chris has come to understand the earth as a gift and a responsibility given to us by God. Food is and has always been an extremely important part of humans’ relationships with God, one another, and the world around them, relationships that have all been damaged by the fast food lifestyle that most of us “city folk” tend to live. Joining Rachel in her gardening efforts has helped Chris to better understand scripture, connect with God, and learn to be more patient and peaceful. Inspired by the likes of Ellen Davis, Wendell Berry, and Masanobu Fukuoka, Chris has embraced Rachel’s enthusiasm for good, healthy, local food, and has come to enjoy working in the dirt as much as she does.
A Psalter is a volume containing the book of Psalms. Norman Wirzba, in Food and Faith articulates better than we can why we chose Psalter Farm.
“As exiles from paradise, living in a fragmented and degraded world, our priestly song will often take the form of lament. This is because many of the creatures we receive come to us in a diminished and deformed state, unable to realize their God-given potential. Too much of the food we eat, when we fully see and deeply understand, lodges in our throats as a cry to the offense to its dignity. Oftentimes we cannot fix the damage we have done. And so we must weep. We must learn the songs of confession and repentance. By bringing our laments and tears to God we ask God to transform cries into a resurrection song and tears into life-giving waters. We ask God to transform our eating and living so that they might communicate the glory of God.”
Like the book of Psalms, Psalter Farm is our lament, our cry, our prayer, and our song.