Memories of Alan Chadwick by Stephen Decater
Steven Decater (far left) listening to Alan Chadwick at the Santa Cruz Garden in 1971
Stephen Decater was a student at UC Santa Cruz in its first year of existence. As a student in Paul Lee's philosophy class, he heard early on about the possibility of a garden project on campus. He attended Alan Chadwick's initial presentation about the garden at the Cowell College Library in the spring of 1967, and began working regularly with Alan in the fall of that year. After nearly a full yearly cycle as an apprentice with Alan, Steve left briefly to work as an indepedent landscaper. But he was soon called back to the university to accept a position as a paid staff member in the Garden Project, a positon which he held for two and a half years, only leaving when Alan was displaced by Steve Kaffka as manager of the University Farm.
Subsequently, Steve Decater spent time working at a horse stable in Palo Alto, gaining experience which would serve him well later on in his life. In 1973 he received a letter from Alan Chadwick, inviting him to join the new project that Alan was initiating in Covelo, California. Steve then worked with Alan during the entire Covelo period, from 1973 to 1978. Toward the end of that time, he began working part-time on a parcel of land that Richard Wilson owned, and this eventually became the Live Power Community Farm that Steve and his wife, Gloria, continue to operate to this day. Cultivation on the farm is done by horses, hence the name. Each year hundreds of school children visit the farm for the period of a week, during which time they learn many of the tasks required on a working farm, see solar power in action, and help care for the animals. For more information, visit this website: www.livepower.org .
In July of 2012, Steve was interviewed by Greg Haynes at Live Power Community Farm. Steve talks about his experiences working with Alan Chadwick and about what he sees as the most important message that Alan brought to his students during the period that he worked in North America.
First meetings with Alan Chadwick at UC Santa Cruz. Alan points out a way to work in the world that is good, true, and beautiful; practicing idealism, not just talking about it. The role of the human being in nature. Magnifying the natural process to create fertility. (17:19)
Gratitude as the spiritual foundation and basic attitude of approach toward nature. Alan's refusal to accept arrogance and insensitivity toward living things: plants, animals, soil. Steve's history working in the garden at Santa Cruz. The healing power of nature. (16:55)
Alan's intolerance for people who were insensitive and destructive toward nature. His deep caring for both people and plants. How Steve began to work at the site that became Live Power Community Farm. Attempts to make the farm economically viable. Adoption of the C.S.A. form. Various relationship possibilities between producers and consumers of food. (19:20)
The importance of what Alan brought to bear on the cultural life of North America. His love for people and his intolerance for insensitivity toward nature. Departure from Covelo and the decision to begin again in Virginia. Richard Wilson's contributions to the project. (11:55)