Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

The 50-Year Anniversary of the Alan Chadwick Garden



flowers at UCSC Alan Chadwick Garden

The beginning of the UCSC Student Garden Project by Alan Chadwick in 1967, now fifty years ago, was recently celebrated with several commemorative events scheduled over four days (July 27-30) on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz. Apprentices from five decades were in attendance, as well as many general admirers and supporters of the project. Two representatives from participated in the various gatherings, where they mostly just enjoyed the food and the assorted social activities, rather than diligently chronicling the highlights of the occasion. Fortunately, Jodi Frediani, an apprentice from 1968-69 and now an award-winning professional photographer, graciously shared some of the photographs that she made at the anniversary celebration event. We are deeply grateful to her for her generous assistance.



Thursday, July 27, 2017


chadwick apprentices from santa cruz


The opening event of the weekend was held on Thursday evening on the deck of the antiquated 49-year-old chalet of the Alan Chadwick Garden. Apprentices who had worked directly with Chadwick at the Santa Cruz garden were invited to attend this special dinner reunion, thus giving the old-timers a chance to interact once again with each other, to compare memories and renew old acquaintances after the passing of so many years. Even though beer and wine were provided ad lib, no one drank so much as to become overly emotional, boisterous, or unduly nostalgic, and thus the event proceeded in a most congenial and uplifting manner. A more thorough description of the evening, written by Peter Jorris, can be found Here.



Evening Gathering at the Chalet. Photo used by permission, courtesy Martha Brown




Old Friends

Old friends meet again at the Alan Chadwick Garden: Right to left, Beth Benjamin, Jim Pewtherer, Rory Criss, and Jim's wife, Holly



Friday, July 28

Friday afternoon marked the official registration and opening of the weekend event. Delicious food was set out under awnings on the farm fields in the bright sun with a glorious view of the sparkling Monterey Bay in the distance. All the multi-aged participants from a span of 50 years were able to meet one another informally over a glass of wine. While several dignitaries gave speeches off to the side, where hay bales were set out for a small audience, those engaged in compelling conversations were free to carry on their meaningful encounters without paying undue attention to the more ceremonial program. Later that evening, after pizza and ice cream were served outdoors, apprentices from assorted epochs gathered inside the recently restored historic hay barn, where they were invited to tell anecdotes and stories about their days in the UCSC Farm and Garden Program. Names were drawn out of a hat for those who wished to relate a favorite episode that they felt was amusing or insightful. At the end, Jim Nelson related a most amusing anecdote about an experience late one evening at the garden in 1968, when he found himself inadvertently eavesdropping on Alan Chadwick. As he worked all alone near the glasshouse, Alan was delivering a comic soliloquy about the trials and tribulations of dealing with apprentices who do not put tools back into their proper places, a re-enactment of which Jim was able to dramatically imitate and perform with great virtuosity. 


Fog Lift Ceremony

Saturday, July 29

On Saturday morning, a "Fog Lift" ceremony was held in what used to be the nursery area of the garden, now planted up in roses. A number of people made presentations, read poetry, or recounted personal recollections of their association with Alan Chadwick. The outstanding readings by Paul Whitworth, professor of theater arts and former director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, may very well have exceeded, in quality of elocution, even the dynamic delivery of Alan Chadwick himself, if that be at all possible. Audrey Stanley, the founder of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, very adeptly read Shakespeare's Sonnet 15, which she indicated was Alan's favorite. (Although he had posted a copy of that sonnet on the wall next to his sickbed during his terminal illness at Green Gulch, given its theme of inescapable mortality, another longtime favorite during most of his life was Sonnet 18). Beth Benjamin read a piece that she wrote about her experience with Chadwick in the early days of the Santa Cruz garden. Aaron de Long, an apprentice from 2003-04, and now a staff member of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, read an original poem entitled "On Becoming a True Apprentice." We asked him afterwards if he would be willing to share it with readers of this website, to which he graciously agreed.



On Becoming a True Apprentice

Let the world be your Master
Let the violets and stones
The glittering frost and bubbling spring
Your chickens and your children
Teach you how
You will not need to know anything
The answers you seek you will receive in each moment
On sunbeams and wind
In coincidence and chance

Learn to listen
With your bones and blood, your fingers and heart, your eyeballs and tongueAaron deLong reading at UCSC
And the language you were not taught
But in which you are written
Will become palpable and clear
Everything becomes a teacher
Bumblebees and peonies
Racing clouds and garden snails
Crabapples and crap

Learn to recognize the inextricable link
Between yourself and everything that runs
Round you and through you
And the limitless potential of the world
Will be your own
Your wealth will be inexhaustible
A treasury of constellations and thunderbolts
Firefly flotillas rising from hay fields at dusk
Dewdrop crystals hung on spider web threads

Trees don’t read books
So learn to read trees, instead
Become fluent in roses
Memorize the radicle emergence of seeds
Hum the tunes to which the bees dance
Recognize your own nature in the fog that up from the sea
Up to the heavens
Up through the trees

Apprentice like this and, in time, people may begin to ask you, aloud, the same
endless questions you have been asking in silence, for years
They may even offer to pay you to be professionally talkative

And you, instead of telling them to do this or that
Instead of forcing them to learn names and procedures
Will help them, instead, to discover secrets
Will expose them, instead, to this incredible “thing” which is, itself, the teacher

It is, you see—though many people seem to find the idea amusing—the garden that makes the gardener.


By Aaron de Long, with the following notes:
--The final six words are a paraphrase of an Alan Chadwick quote
--Also, there are two separate quotes from Orin Martin, within the body of this piece

The photo above right shows Aaron reading this poem at the "Fog Lift" gathering, Saturday, July 29, 2017.



After the Saturday morning "Fog Lift" ceremony, the attendees were allowed to mingle and converse, meanwhile a group of apprentices from 2015 (and current) played and sang gentle acoustical music in the background. Several of the pieces they performed were written by members of the group themselves. Participants included: Kate Watters, Peter Crooke, Evan Domsic, Eliza Milio, and Ella Fleming. Later, the group (sans Ella, unfortunately) allowed us to record some of their music down on the farm. The video of that session can be seen by following the link above.


Beth Benjamin, 2017



Later on Saturday there were presentations and reports by apprentices who have gone out into the world and accomplished admirable projects of their own. All of these demonstrated considerable fortitude and persistence in the face of daunting challenges. A number of workshops were also offered, including such topics as, for example, seed saving, pollinators, plant sketching, fruit tree care, teaching gardening to children, flower arranging, and more.



Above right: Beth Benjamin reading at the Saturday morning ceremony



Sunday, July 30

On Sunday morning, Michael Stusser presented his 1971 film, "Garden" to the assembled participants. Michael was among the very first students at UCSC to begin assisting Alan Chadwick with the initial cultivation of the future garden. Later, Paul Lee was able to find funding to make this film, and Michael acted as director, editor, and cameraman. Follow the link below to watch it.



At the closing circle




At noon, a closing circle was held for anyone who cared to attend. This was an open space for participants to share their thoughts and experiences as they felt appropriate. Here Jodi captured a couple of old-timers (Peter Jorris, left; and Jim Nelson, right) flirting with a pretty, young apprentice. Some things never change.







Follow the link below to watch a well-made YouTube video from UCSC describing the history of the Farm and Garden program, which includes a segment on Alan Chadwick..



For an extensive description of the history of the Farm and Garden program at UCSC, written by Patricia Allen and Martha Brown, follow the link Here.




Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this page are Copyright 2017 by Jodi Frediani, Used by permission.

This article was contributed by Greg Haynes in August, 2017



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