Happy Birthday Wendell, Patron Saint of the Small Farm
August 5th was Wendell Berry’s birthday. He might as well be the patron saint of small family farms. For those who haven’t read his work, I’d begin with the Art of the Commonplace, a collection of short essays, for a broad overview of agrarianism and how it effects every facet of our lives, whether we know it or not. In honor of his birthday, and the trajectory he has inspired in our lives, I want to share his vision—no less appropriate today as it was in ‘81—for a new agriculture.
“... our crying need is for an agriculture in which the typical farm would be farmed by the third generation of the same family... having some confidence in family continuity in place, present owners would have the future owners not only in supposition, but in sight. And so would take good care of the land not for something so abstract as the future, or posterity, but out of particular love for living children and grandchildren.
... It would begin in work and love. People at work in communities three generations old, would know that their bodies, renewed time and again, the movements of other bodies, living and dead, known and loved, remembered and loved, in the same shop, houses, and fields. That of course, is a description of a kind of community dance. And such a dance is, perhaps, the best way we have to describe harmony.”
Wendell Berry, On People, Land, & Communities, 1981
It may be true, he has a sometimes bucolic idealism about agriculture. Everyone should read some Wendell Berry, it should be required for those who eat, and I truly believe in what he’s getting at here. In order to really care for something, you have to love it. And in order to love it, you have to know it, it must be specific (i.e. think globally, act locally has roots in the same idea). It’s the subtle shift from caring about climate change because it’s the right thing to do for the planet, to caring about climate change because it’s the right thing to do for your grandchildren. Which, in essence, is what we’re doing here, on our farm. I don’t expect our children to go on to farm for a living, but I do expect to pass onto them, and others, a method of farming that is not only sustainable, but regenerative. However, we’re not there yet, and I’m not going to throw around the #regenerative hashtag, because so few farms are, but I believe we’re getting closer every year.
(Sort of related, check out this post on NPR about connecting generations in rural communities)
A New Way to CSA
Our farm has made progress, and is made possible, by the support of our CSA members. The CSA is the core of our farm for several reasons: it balances crop planning for the health of our farm with the diets of our members, provides us with a predictable and steady income and work load, etc. But, we get it, being a CSA member is quite a commitment, and not for the faint of heart. And things change in the lives of even the most dedicated of members. Recently, one of our CSA folks had a career change that put him on the road for weeks at a time, and another had a last child move off to college, and as much as they love supporting our farm, the CSA is just not a reasonable option like it was. Which is why we’re trying something new…
For those who want to support our farm in a big way, but can’t commit to a weekly 1/2 bushel CSA box, we’re now offering StoneHouse market cards. It’s simple, load a market card for $200 or more and get an additional 10%, all to spend at our market table at Community Farmers Market. There are no further commitments and no time limits, but only a limited number of cards available. If you run out, just load another $200+ on the card! Though we’re still a few weeks out from getting the physical cards in the mail, you can sign up for an e-market card beginning next week (the link will go out in the next post).
Note: this does not replace our CSA, which is still our preferred means of support, but does offer a flexible option for folks who want to contribute more.
A Little Farm Tour
I’m trying something new on the blog today, or should I say vlog (ugh). By no means do I want to become a YouTube content creator, but I do want to share the farm visually (please, bare with me while I figure this whole video thing out). It’s a short—five minute—unedited walk through the garden. If these go over well, maybe we’ll do them every month, or every other week, or more often. Each time, I’ll try to go into a little detail about a different part of the farm.