Archive for October, 2014

Wrapping it up

October 22, 2014


During the summer, the weeks and months become a blur: the picking never ends; we pack boxes twice a week; inexorable nature waits until winter to let up and hibernate.  While many of you mourn the passing of fresh, tender produce, we as farmers take a moment to exhale, reflect, and celebrate.  We have weathered the threatening storms, hefted the 10000 bushels, navigated the normal unpredictable eventualities.  The process is simple yet mysterious, grueling yet beautiful, and it is time to prepare for the next go-round.

We get here to the end by virtue of grace and generosity.  We succumb to the finality with peace and plenty.  It is a wonderful year indeed when we approach winter with bountiful provisions: the squash is piled high; the garlic is both stored and planted again; the onions and sweet potatoes are prepared to provide for months to come; the parsnips and carrots reside in the soil’s protective embrace; and the hardy greens welcome frozen nights to come.  For this, for being here to give thanks for our continued nourishment, we count ourselves blessed indeed.

Thanks for choosing to know your farmer.  Thanks for believing that such knowledge matters.  Thanks for the work that you have put in, be it weeding, picking, transporting, planning, washing, chopping, cooking, praying, forgiving.  Thanks for sharing in the joy of admiring, smelling, tasting, indulging.  Together we work, and together we strive.

I truly believe in Community Supported Consuming.  Much of what plagues our globalized world is our distance from what feeds us.  When we don’t know the hands and backs that break and bend for us, we can make of them an abstraction or, worse, forget they even exist.  If our luxury is the product of exploited and suffering people, what kind of luxury is this?  When we live too far from the places on earth that are cultivated to satisfy our desires, we lose sight of the nature of the demands we make.  If our sustenance results in poisoned waters and desecrated skies, what is being sustained?  We are made more whole by being more wholly aware of our getting and spending, by recognizing the connections that bind us to the interconnected world we live in, by appreciating what makes us belong to each other and this planet.

Although it might be more convenient to be a bystander, to consume with less consciousness and more “freedom,” to let others concern themselves with these acts of creation, the path of participation is greatly gratifying.  There is a plainly palpable pleasure—an enlivening intimacy—in knowing the food, in knowing how and where it comes from, in plunging our thirsty roots down deep into the rich network of soil that gives us life.

A journalist we met through the Healthy Foods, Local Farms conference wrote this piece, in which our little family makes an appearance, about our neighbor and friend Wendell Berry.

Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

Summing up the summer

October 1, 2014

I sit down to write a newsletter, produce a few paragraphs, get pulled away from the process, sit back down, weeks have passed, and the news has become old.  It has been a full and fruitful year: from one bountiful harvest to the next; from one monumental weeding job to the next; from one feeling of accomplishment to two of things undone; from one energetic toddler to the other fledgling explorer; from one late night to the next early morning; from births to deaths and the madly spinning world between them.

A farmer’s world from spring to fall does not allow many still moments of reflection.  The list never contracts.  The race is always on to the next demand.  We are consumed by the farm, and we love it.  A parent’s life from morning to evening does not allow many quiet spells of perspectivizing.  We may at times sit spellbound by the unfolding of consciousness, the constant discoveries and epiphanies, the purity of essence, the beauty of being.  But time furtively propels forward, and when at last perspective strikes we realize the child has grown older, the baby is no longer a baby.  We lose ourselves to our children, and we love it.  And so it goes under the unfathomably distant stars, on this ever-revolving earth, eon upon eon, where both no thing is new under the sun and every thing is always new.

Amidst these immutable facts, seasons change and annual crops come and go.  Year ten of A Place on Earth CSA has been a great boon.  The weather has been as close to perfect as can be, and our bushel baskets have run over.  It has been a long haul seeing this farm from worn-out and neglected to fertile and forgiving, and still there is so much work to be done.  But, it is becoming more and more clear that the land responds to loving care.  Where once even weeds were hardly fit to grow, beautiful food now flourishes.  We have made this happen as a community, and, in a world convulsing with war and pestilence, this place on earth—little as it is—harbors great hope for healing, resilience, cooperation, and the power of love.

Just as in 2005 it would have been impossible to foresee where we would be in 2014, we cannot imagine how this farm organism will evolve over the next ten years.  If the creek don’t rise, however, we can only continue to grow in health and integrity as we work together through each successive trial and triumph.  It has been a great honor to work this land, to tend to these plants and animals and microbes, to believe and be believed in, to celebrate and mourn, look and leap, wonder and imagine with you, as bedraggled and bewildered as I may sometimes be.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude for my companions in the field and home and spirit.  Whatever the circumstances, you are here, and you make light in darkness, fun in hardship, laughter in loss, learning in confusion.  I frequently feel I do not give as much as I take.  I wish there were some way to repay what I know I owe.  Know that your presence is a gift I’ll sing of and give thanks for to the grave.  Our family is unspeakably richer with you in it.

Frost will soon creep in and kill back much of the labor we lavished on this place this year.  I hope your bellies and freezers and larders have been filled and that you are still hungry for another spring and another go-round through another growing season, another journey in an endless effort to right our relationships with each other and this precious planet.