Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
Setting out on foot this morning from the Farm toward the summit of the Big Mountain, I follow the Brush Brook East from her mouth – where she meets the Huntington River – towards her source on the steep, forested Western slopes of the Mountain. From the summit, this watershed is visible in its entirety. As morning light spills over the high mountain ridge and begins to fills the valley with the promise of a new day, it is quite something to behold. This is the place that has claimed me and inspired the work that has become Brush Brook Community Farm. Upon moving here four years ago, I learned that the neighborhood – made up of a few handfuls of homes and farms along the Camel’s Hump Road and its tributaries: Taft, Salvas and Fielder Roads – was home to some Very Unique Characters. The one I was most eager to get to know was Enid Wonnacott. In this letter, I will tell the story of how this came to pass and how she became the Patron Saint of Brush Brook Community Farm.
"We shall be known by the company we keep, by the ones who circle ‘round to tend these fires."
-- from ‘We Shall Be Known,’ by Ma Muse, the song Enid chose to be sung after her death by the hundreds gathered for the 2019 Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT Conference. Enid worked tirelessly for three decades, as the director of NOFA-VT, to improve the health of landscapes, farms and farmers as well as the human communities they sustain.
Please join us for our weekly celebration of the tremendous Gift of being alive, Soup and Bread Gift Distribution, from 4-6pm on Friday. We will have soup made by many neighborly hands from carefully grown and gleaned local ingredients as well as hundreds of loaves of fresh bread. All of this food is offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. Our work is sustained by many Gifts. Last weekend we had 20 people show up for our Work Day and still others who offered Gifts of Lumber and Building Materials for the new Cow Barn that plan to build this Fall. Information on our Work Days can be found at bit.ly/brushbrookworkdays including what to bring with you and whether or not we will be hosting a potluck meal afterwards. So far this month, we have received financial gifts of $1024 towards a total Sept. Budget Request of $5300. A detailed budget is included below, as well as information on how to make a Gift. We thank you kindly for your consideration.
Lost and Found: Remembering Enid Wonnacott
“Good luck! Her life is very full.” This is what I heard repeatedly when I told people how much I wanted to get to know Enid, now that I had moved into her neighborhood. Her cancer was in remission in those days, and she was firing on all cylinders. This enormous capacity of the heart, it turns out, was one way that Enid was known and recognized by those who loved her. But by the spring of 2018 the cancer had returned and claimed some of this capacity, and so she came to me to ask if I might be willing to care for her one remaining sheep, elderly Anita. Anita was very dear to Enid, and to this day she spends the grazing season with our sheep as ‘flock grandmother.’ Before we turn-in the ram in late October, Harry and I will load Anita into the back of his hatchback – as Enid and I did together many times – and drive her up the hill to spend the winter with the horses, dogs and chickens at the family’s home farm.
Have you ever noticed that we say, over and over again, “We lost Enid,” or “I lost my father last year?” We say this same thing when we misplace our wallet, our phone or our car keys. Have you ever wondered why we say it this way? Well, thanks to the remarkable writing of Stephen Jenkinson in his book Die Wise, I have spent many hours wondering on this question. In this letter, I will ask you to consider: What could it look like to commit ourselves to ‘finding’ those we have ‘lost’ with the same vigor we might search for our missing car keys?
Before Brush Brook Community Farm had acquired its name, we hosted our first Gratitude Feast. This was November of 2018, and Enid’s health was deteriorating fast. With the tables laid at the Town Hall and the final food preparations completed, we were still unsure whether Enid would be able to attend. But attend she did, and her joyful presence filled the Hall. After the meal, I went over to her to thank her for making the effort to be there. She shared some of her considerable wisdom with me when she said, “Adam, this was very special, but it would be even better with a dance afterwards!” She has whispered repeatedly since, “Remember that agriculture has the word culture in it.” We now sing and dance for Enid at every Feast.
Enid’s death in early 2019 left an enormous hole in the Vermont farming community. In fact, to put those two words together – ‘farming’ and ‘community’ – is to trace the course of Enid’s Life Work.
"In this great turning we shall learn to lead in love." – from We Shall be Known.
It is a mark of our time that fewer of us than ever before are intimately involved in growing food, in the practice of agriculture. At the same time, given the presence of digital media, more of us than ever before have to opportunity to disseminate our opinions about the subject. This unique set of circumstances has circled around the work of the Farm, at times like a kettle of hungry Vultures. You might be surprised to learn, given the great Joy that emerges at the Gift Stand, that there are some very hard moments behind the scenes. In these moments I always find myself wishing I could head up the hill to find Enid and ask for her guidance. On a recent Sunday afternoon one of these moments was upon me and I was heading down the slippery slope of self-pity. The Soup Team would arrive shorty, but those who had offered to help with setup were nowhere to be found. The Farm’s critics had been particularly outspoken in the preceding days, and the weight of all of it was bearing down in such a way that I wanted to flee. My tears were close. As I stood there, feeling alone and wondering if anyone else cared, a lone Heron flew low over the field behind the bakery. She croaked to me, “Lift your chin, young man. The world is mysterious and beautiful and worth working for. The work will not often be easy or even pleasant. Please remember, it is not about you.” And with that, the day turned in the most beautiful direction. The Soup Team arrived and worked their magic, and dinner was shared with song and celebration.
Maybe ‘finding’ Enid must begin by missing her this deeply and by telling others that this is so. In a troubled time like the one at hand, her heart-fire is surely more needed than ever before. Maybe ‘finding’ Enid includes noticing an agricultural landscape that everywhere bears the mark of her work, includes telling her stories and singing her songs and coming together, across considerable difference, to remember that there is so much to celebrate and LOTS of good work to do. Thank you for reading.
Here is what you will find in this letter:
- SOUP MENU for 9/11
- INVITATION: GIFT DISTRIBUTION DETAILS
- WORK DAY: Sunday 9/13, 2-5pm – click here for details: bit.ly/brushbrookworkdays
- FINANCIAL GIFT REQUESTS – detailed September Budget
With Great Care,
Adam and the Brush Brook Community Farm Team
- Brush Brook Soup – Sweet Peppers, Zucchini, Spaghetti Squash, Smoked Beef, Garlic, Herbs, Bone Broth.
- Vegetarian Soup – Roasted Zucchini and Cucumbers, Greens, Herbs, Garlic.
Please bring a pint or quart container with you from home and we will fill it for you.
INVITATION: GIFT DISTRIBUTION DETAILS
Friday 9/11, 4:00pm – 6:00 pm
Brush Brook Community Farm
4582 Main Road, Huntington, VT.
Bread Varieties this week: Simple Wheat, Polenta, 3 Seed, Rye, Sprouted Grain, Backcountry Loaf (gf)
Would you consider coming by for bread and soup for your household, and/or some to drop off to a neighbor on your way home?
BUDGET UPDATE: Thank you for Considering the September Budget
Many heartfelt thanks to all who have responded to these invitations by sending in Financial Gifts. If you would like to support our work, you can mail checks made out to Brush Brook Community Farm to PO Box 202, Huntington, VT, 05462, bring gifts to the Friday Gift Stand, or donate through the website. We are 100% financially supported by these personal financial gifts.
Brush Brook Community Farm and Bakery – Sept. Budget
|As of 9/8|
|Gifts Received(Balance from August)||$ 1024.00|
|Estimated Expenses for August|
|Bread Ingredients & Packaging||$ 1,115.50|
|Bakery Overhead (Insur., Electric, etc.)||$ 555.86|
|Bakery Rent||$ 300.00|
|Farm Expenses||$ 1,051.76|
|Farm/Bakery Team Requested Gifts|
|Adam Wilson Personal Living (full time)||$ 648.08|
|Adam Wilson Rent||$ 200.00|
|Erik Weil (part time) Rent/Housing||$ 500.00|
|Collin McCarthy (part time) Utilities||$ 100.00|
|Bakery Deferred Maintenance Fund||$ 400.00|
|Estimated Federal/State Taxes||$ 351.22|
|Paypal Fees||$ 75.00|
Support the Farm & Bakery
The operations of Brush Brook Community Farm & Bakery are maintained by neighborly working hands and financial gifts. Your generous monetary support propels the gift of food forward to those open to receiving it.