The Covelo Garden Journal of Tom Benthin
Tom Benthin became entranced with the Student Garden and captivated by Alan Chadwick shortly after entering UCSC in the fall of 1971, Alan’s last academic year at Santa Cruz. During the Winter Quarter, Tom, along with several other students, arranged to take an independent study class with Alan and he was at the Garden after the schism that led to Alan’s departure from Santa Cruz. The following year Tom took a leave of absence from the University to apprentice himself to Alan. That took some work – during that time Alan started gardens in Saratoga and Green Gulch before settling in Covelo with the support of benefactor Richard Wilson. Finally Tom and his girlfriend Cindy joined the Covelo Garden Project in July of 1973. They studied as apprentices until June the following year. Over the course of that first, very wet, winter, the original Covelo garden on the edge of town flooded. In the spring the decision was made to move the garden to its new site, near the edge of Round Valley.
In response to the “mime and deportment” classes, which Alan taught during that first year, Tom embarked on studying ballet after returning to the Bay Area. He studied dance for the rest of the decade, then transitioned to working in restaurants with chefs Jeremiah Tower and, later, Joyce Goldstein. In the mid-90s Tom changed careers again, beginning a practice in graphic facilitation which he continues today. In 2012, Tom and his family moved to Glen Ellen, California, where he works whenever possible on the garden and beginning orchard. There’s always more to do than there is time, but as Alan used to say, “No mini-mini!,” by which he meant, "Never do things in a small way."
A video interview with Tom, along with several photos of the Covelo project, can be found Here.
Note: These notebook entries were made by Tom at the Covelo Garden in the Spring of 1974. In sending them to us here at alan-chadwick.org, he emphasizes that this was the journal of a first-year apprentice. So while he was attempting to be as accurate as possible, these pages may contain some errors of spellings, amounts of fertilization, and so on. Nevertheless, despite these limitations, they will clearly prove to be a useful record in the historical legacy of Alan Chadwick.
Note to page 41: Tom Benthin indicates that there is very likely an error in the amount of wood ash Alan recommended here. More likely 1/4 trowel or less is the appropriate amount.