Personal Memories of Alan Chadwick
by His Students and Friends (and a few others)
Alan Chadwick arrived in Santa Cruz on March 1, 1967. Soon, the first-ever Spring quarter at UCSC would be winding down and the students would be leaving for summer break. Alan was determined that, when they returned in the Fall, there would be a garden there that would knock their socks off. Alan's goals were very large. He intended to plant a seed in the hearts of humanity that would revolutionize agriculture, that would awaken souls that had become disconnected from nature, and that would resurect an appreciation for natural beauty. A tall order indeed. What was most needed were collaborators who could see the vision and help to bring it about. But the garden had to be visually striking in order to draw-in the much needed disciples. Hence the urgency in the work that Alan and his first apprentices, John Powell and Michael Stusser, had undertaken that first summer. Beth was one of those newly arriving students in the Fall of 1967 who fell under the magic spell that Alan had intentionally created. She was one of the first of those to recognize the master and to devote herself to the cause that he espoused. This, then, is the story of her experience.
Tom was a student at UCSC in 1971 and 1972 where he first met Alan Chadwick. After initially working in the garden from time to time as a volunteer, he managed to find a professor who allowed him to do an independent study in the garden. It didn't take long for him to realize that he wanted to work and study more intensively with Chadwick, so he arranged a leave of absence with UCSC and became an apprentice at the Covelo project. Tom is one of the few who took scrupulous notes of Alan's instructions for planting and propagation. His Covelo Garden Journal, posted elsewhere on this site, is a gold mine for those who wish to recall exactly how Chadwick prepared seed flats for various specific plants. This memory page includes a four-part video interview conducted by Greg Haynes on October 1, 2017. Also included are several photos from the Covelo garden.
Stephen Decater worked longer and more closely with Alan Chadwick than anyone else. In this four-part interview from July, 2012, Steve shares his memories of experiences with Alan over almost a decade. Included are photographs and videos of Live Power Community Farm, the project that Steve and his wife, Gloria, have managed continuously since 1978.
Jodi transfered to UCSC from Davis in the year 1966. She was present when Chadwick arrived in Santa Cruz in 1967 and heard his initial lecture about his plans for a garden on campus. By 1968 Jodi had fallen under the spell of the Pied Piper and dropped out of college to work full-time in the garden. Alan affectionately called her "Blackie" for her curly crow-black tresses that were expansive, to say the least. Her experience working with Chadwick exerted a formative influence on the remainder of her life. On July 27, 2017, Jodi gave an interview with Greg Haynes and Peter Jorris at her home in Bonny Doon.
These memories comprise 25 audio recordings and several written accounts describing experiences with Alan Chadwick at four of the five garden projects where he worked in North America between 1967 and 1979. The recordings include vignettes from Santa Cruz, Green Gulch, Saratoga, and Covelo.
Gregory Hudson was a key participant at Alan Chadwick's Student Garden Project at Santa Cruz, having worked as one of the four staff members who shared the maintenance tasks of the garden and helped train new apprentices. When tensions began to rise as the result of the factions that developed in 1971, Greg moved on to other pursuits, but he rejoined the garden project again during the Saratoga phase in 1973. Then, when Alan decided to commence work on the project at Covelo, Greg was one of the original apprentices who joined the efforts during the first year there. Here he speaks about his experiences with Alan Chadwick in a series of video interviews with Greg Haynes in March of 2014.
Harold Hyde was the Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance during the period that Alan Chadwick worked on his famous demonstration garden at the University of California in Santa Cruz. One of Hyde's duties was to supervise the non-teaching staff, and beginning in the spring of 1967 this included Alan Chadwick. Hyde's office was therefore deeply involved in the grisly business of demoting and ultimately firing Alan from his position of employment at the university in 1972. In this oral history interview with the UCSC library, Harold Hyde provides some important clues about why, and under what circumstances, Alan Chadwick ultimately left Santa Cruz.
Lee Jacobs grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and worked at the Ford Motor Company plant, as had his father before him. It was good money back in the day, but something inside prompted Lee to chuck it all and begin wandering the earth in search of a life more imbued with meaning. Somehow he found himself in Alan Chadwick's Garden Project at the University of California, and that seemed to fit the bill precisely. Like many others before and after him, Lee resonated to the natural rhythms of the garden, the hard physical work, the beauty of the flowers and herbs, and to the wisdom embodied in Alan Chadwick. He recently shared a brief essay with us that recollects that fateful time.
Written accounts and a two-part video interview of experiences in three of Alan's five student-oriented garden projects in the United States. In particular, Peter's participation in the very early days of the Santa Cruz garden gives him a unique perspective on Alan's history. Peter was the only person to work continuously with Alan from the very first to the very last days of the Green Gulch project in Marin County, California.
At a symposium on intensive gardening methods held in Santa Barbara, California in the year 1976, Richard Joos delivered some inspiring introductory remarks before displaying his slide show of Alan Chadwick's garden in Round Valley. Joos was then the president of the Institute for Man and Nature, the fund raising arm of the Covelo project. He here touches on a subject that was essential to Alan Chadwick's message, and one that required very delicate treatment: the mysterious relation between the gardener's attitude of approach and the productive output of the garden.
A portion of Steve's oral history interview with the University of California in 2007, published by them in 2010. Steve worked closely with Alan from 1969 to 1971, first as an apprentice and later as a staff member. During the Spring and Summer of 1971, the two became estranged over Steve's power play to oust Alan from the University. Here Steve describes what he considers "a golden time in the garden" at U.C. Santa Cruz.
Allen Kalpin accompanied Peter Jorris and Alan Chadwick in the move from Santa Cruz to the Zen retreat center at Green Gulch. He participated in the initial discussions with Richard Baker who had assumed leadership of the San Francisco Zen Center after the death of his teacher, Suzuki Roshi. Being privy to the early negotiations, Allen was in a position to understand the misunderstandings and misalignment that eventually doomed the project at Green Gulch.
Skip Kimura was an apprentice with Alan Chadwick in Covelo during 1977 and 1978. In fact, he was the last person in the Covelo garden when Alan had gone off to Virginia to begin yet another garden project there. In an interview with Peter Jorris and Greg Haynes in August of 2012, Skip talks about what it was like working with Alan Chadwick during that period.
Paul Lee was an early proponent of the Student Garden Project on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz. Five years later, after achieving great notoriety and acclaim at the national level for the gardens there, Chadwick was unceremoniously cast aside, a victim of dirty politics and scheming betrayal. What was he to do now? Paul had earlier befriended Richard Baker, who had since become the leader (Roshi) of the San Francisco Zen Center. Since that group had recently purchased a farm just outside San Francisco, Paul suggested to Richard that Alan might be wiling to get involved in establishing the agricultural activities at Green Gulch. This selection tells the story of Paul's friendship with Baker Roshi and how that influenced Alan's decision to participate in the project.
Nancy Lingemann was one of the earliest students to apprentice herself to Alan Chadwick at the University of California in 1967. She also formed a close personal friendship with Alan that would last until his death in 1980. He never treated her with anything other than the highest respect, and that was the way he treated the other women in the garden, she says. In this series of video interviews, Nancy shares her experience of working alongside Alan Chadwick as a friend and student.
Orin Martin is currently employed by the University of California to manage what is left of the garden that Alan Chadwick created there on the Santa Cruz campus between 1967 and 1972. Although he never worked with Alan in any of his projects, he participated in a few exchanges that Alan agreed to conduct during and just after his work in the Covelo project. Alan was, he says, always very polite and deferential to him in all of their limited number of interactions, but ...
Dan McGuire held the office of Student President during the years of 1970-71 at the Garden Project at U.C. Santa Cruz. This meant that any issues which directly concerned the students in general would be communicated by Alan to Dan, and it was Dan's responsibility to inform and, if necessary, enforce the policy. This kept Alan one step away from the tender and delicate ears of the students, who would thus be less likely to take offence at Alan's sometimes overly direct style of communication. It was a difficult role to play, but Dan did a good job of it. As a result of this working relationship, there developed a strong confidence between the two of them that grew into a lasting friendship.
Richard Merrill never worked directly with Alan Chadwick, but because of his years teaching horticulture at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz County, he was interviewed as part of the Oral History Project of the UCSC library. Back in 1971 Richard did visit Alan's garden at the University, but the encounter with Chadwick turned out to be a disaster. Merrill describes his version of that experience here, but he is not the only one who remembers that fateful day.
Jim Nelson was involved in the Student Garden Project at UC Santa Cruz at a very early point in its development. He had been a student, but soon dropped his academic program in order to devote all his available time to working with Alan Chadwick. For many of those early years, Jim was Alan's "right-hand-man" and the person who frequently interfaced between Chadwick and the many volunteer workers. After working at the UCSC garden, Jim and his then wife, Beth Benjamin, went on to found the Camp Joy gardens in Boulder Creek, California. In that project they were assisted by a hearty group of confederates that included Michael Stusser. On October 11, 2017, Jim spoke with Greg Haynes at Camp Joy during a two-part video interview. This page includes a fascinating excerpt from an interview with the UCSC Oral History Project where Jim describes how it was that Alan arrived in Santa Cruz and was persuaded to begin work on the gardens there.
In the year 1966, the poet Donald Nicholl was a visiting professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Asked to deliver a lecture on the work of David Jones, Nicholl chose to describe Jones' concept of "a sense of place." Out of the discussion that followed, the idea of a garden on the UCSC campus took form. Freya von Moltke was present, and she then suggested Alan Chadwick as the perfect person to lead the garden project. Nicholl here suggests that the decision made in that year has had profound political consequences. These are brief but powerful words.
Alan Chadwick's last garden was located in New Market, Virginia, where he was finally diagnosed with terminal cancer. The head gardener during most of that period was Gregg Novotny. Having first arrived at the gardens in Covelo, Gregg helped with the transition to Virginia by driving a truck full of perennial plants from Round Valley to the East Coast. He had a particularly close working relationship with Alan that gives his memories of that time a unique poignancy.
Louise entered UCSC as a student in the year 1969. After discovering the garden, she worked there off and on for two and a half years while she finished her University degree. Always a cheerful presence in the garden, Louise intervened to save the life of an apprentice who, at one time, found himself in difficult circumstances.
A Zen student at Green Gulch Farm says the right word at the right moment and thereby helps Alan Chadwick reconcile himself with the totality of his nature. A dream the night before foreshadows the events that unfold when Elizabeth serves a turn as Alan's caregiver just before his death.
A video interview with an apprentice from the garden at Santa Cruz in 1969 and 1970. Mardi Sicular has a valuable perspective on Alan Chadwick and his message that she expresses very articulately. Her description of some of the interactions that she had with Alan are truly inspirational.
This is an audio interview done with Craig Siska in 2013, where he describes his time with Alan Chadiwick at New Market, Virginia, during 1978 and 1979. This resource is interesting, since not many California apprentices knew Alan during those years.
Michael was one of the first of Alan's apprentices in Santa Cruz. He worked with Alan and John Powell during that first summer of 1967, grubbing out poison oak and coyote bush in preparation for starting the garden. This collection includes Michael's 1971 film of Alan's Santa Cruz garden project entitled, Garden, and a video interview with Greg Haynes conducted on August 17, 2012 describing Michael's experiences working with Alan.
Now an accomplished professional landscape designer, Maria von Brincken first discovered her affinity for gardens through her work with Alan Chadwick at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She had been a student there in the early years, but like so many others, she found herself working in the garden with Alan almost as much as she spent in the classroom.
Richard Wilson is the renowned California conservationist who invited Alan Chadwick to create a garden project in Covelo. He subsequently raised funds from various foundations and individuals to support the project there between 1973 and 1978. Richard also was instrumental in bringing Alan back to California after he became terminally ill in Virginia, and in providing the necessary financial support during this difficult period of Alan's life. This collection includes interviews with Ann Lage of the Regional Oral History Office of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, and a video interview conducted on August 9, 2012 with Peter Jorris and Greg Haynes about Richard's experiences with Alan in Covelo.
Could Alan Chadwick's Garden Project thrive within the strict confines of a Zen Buddhist monastery? Would his fiery temperament mesh with the subdued tranquility of disciples who had renounced the outer world in favor of a life of inner contemplation? This was the great experiment of 1972 when Alan and his two apprentices, Peter Jorris and Allen Kalpin, accompanied him to Green Gulch Farm in Marin County. Several Zen students from those early days share their vivid impressions of Chadwick and his gardens.
A cover crop of Crimson Clover