Sierra Harvest is extremely lucky to have been “adopted” by Jim Hurley, who has used his considerable building skills to create several structures and furniture pieces for Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Project. Jim is a retired physics professor and woodworking hobbyist who taught at UC Davis for 30 years before moving to this area in 1990. I asked him about the work he has done for the Food Love Project.
SH: How did you become interested in volunteering for Sierra Harvest?
JH: The Food Love Project is part of my neighborhood association (the Lake Vera/Round Mt. Neighborhood Association), along with several other farms (Super Tuber, First Rain, and Soil Sisters). I like the idea of living in a neighborhood where homes and farms coexist—it is the natural order of things. As a scientist and educator, I particularly enjoy the educational component of Food Love Project, their Farm to School Education Program where kids learn about the nature of food, where it comes from, and how it sustains us.
SH: What have you done as a volunteer for Sierra Harvest?
JH: The first thing I built was the mini-barn, clearly their most pressing need at the time. The next (much smaller) project was a mice-proof lid for Katie’s microgreens, something that would allow sun in but kept mice out. Then came the rainbow wheel, which kids spin as part of an educational game. It is essentially a Lazy Susan on a stick. [Farmer Amanda: “Everyone loves the rainbow wheel!”] For the rest, I am essentially the farm handyman, building benches for the kids to sit on and other odd jobs.
SH: What do you like about the work you do for Sierra Harvest?
JH: I love wood and working with it. I am at peace in my wood shop. I remember the day I finished building my home some years back. I felt an overriding sadness. Now what do I do?!? I’m retired and nothing to fill that need we all have to be doing something we love. So rather than me doing the Food Love Project a favor in these building projects, they are doing me a favor by providing an outlet for the satisfaction I derive from wood-working.
SH: How else do you support the local food movement in our community?
JH: I’m trying to encourage Food Love’s U-pick program– as the chair and newsletter editor for our neighborhood association, I email each week’s menu of available veggies to neighborhood subscribers. I believe that Amanda Thibodeau (Director of the Food Love Project) and Katie Turner (Farm Manager and Educator), with their love and understanding for the function of food in our lives, provide an important service to the community, and richly deserve our support. (My own diet consisted mainly of hamburger and Minute Rice. Now they’ve added green beans to my evening meal. It’s a start.)
Everybody loves the rainbow wheel!
SH: What do you do when you are not volunteering for Sierra Harvest?
JH: I’m finishing up a book I have been working on for years: “The Hidden Force That Makes Life Possible and Time Travel Impossible.” It’s complicated – it’s about food, entropy, and the paradox of time asymmetry. It’s interesting. No really! That book and my work in the neighborhood are fulfilling and make retirement less retiring.