Photo by John Hadden
Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
Woodpecker calls out by beating his beak against the trunks of carefully chosen hardwood trees in the narrow band of woods along Brush Brook, the shallow, singing, cobbled stream that flows through the heart of the Farm. Brook lies mostly covered-over with Ice and Snow, and so her song quiets to a faint murmur. In this season, you must stand alongside her to hear what she has to say. While there, you might notice the tracks of Fox or Coyote or others who use her frozen surface as a winter roadway.
Here is a preview of the news for this week:
- STORY: Why Am I So Afraid To Say the Words Aloud?
- Erika’s Invitation: The Patchwork Commons: A Neighborhood Gardening Project
- Soup and Bread Gift Distribution – Saturday 11am – 1pm
- No Work Day, but you are invited to pick up Vegetables to prep for Soup at Distro on Saturday.
- Budget Update: $1465 received, $3800 left to go in February. You can make a Gift HERE.
STORY: Why Am I So Afraid To Say the Words Aloud?
Woodpecker’s drumming saturates the dry, sun-bright air and the reverberations pass through my soft flesh and make their way toward the hardness of my teeth and bones. Woodpecker calls the world awake and announces the arrival of Winter’s second act. Halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox now, Sun returns with a resounding affirmation. Life must continue. On the South side of the Brook, twenty Ewes melt oval hollows in the snow as they lie in the Sun chewing their cuds, day-dreaming the Lambs that grow steadily inside of them. In six weeks, trusting that Spring will arrive to green the world again, these Ewes will begin to drop their Lambs and add their distinct mothering songs to those of Brook and Woodpecker. Who can be alive and alert in this season and not notice the signs and sounds of celebration everywhere? Life seems to have a tremendous desire to reaffirm its commitments, each member of the household upholding the world by being itself.
And yet this week has been marked by an unyielding Grief here at the Farm. Last Friday we learned of a new study cataloguing the changes in populations of wildlife around the world. Between 1970 and 2016, the researchers found, worldwide populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians decreased by an estimated 68%. In just over one generation humans have cleared the world of more than two-thirds of non-human animal life. Some have described the work of Brush Brook Community Farm as fearless. Fearlessness is not what we experience here at the Farm, however. Have you ever ended a relationship with someone you have loved deeply and experienced a terror that robs your ability to name what is happening, even if it has been in plain sight for some considerable time? Have you ever loved someone who has grown very sick and noticed how this same terror can keep anyone in the room from saying aloud what everyone knows is happening – as if saying the word ‘dying’ would set something in motion that seems unbearable, un-survivable, un-livable?
Owl flies to perch in young Ash, who stands directly outside the house window where I sit to write this morning. Sky is overcast. Light Snow falls on a gentle breeze. Over the past weeks, Owl visits the Farm daily, and his presence commands our attention and our wonder. He drops from his perch now, and with four silent wing strokes crosses the clearing to land on the awning of the house, just ten feet above my head. We stare directly into each other’s eyes. I can clearly see the delicate pattern of brown and white feathers that form concentric rings around his eyes, his narrow bone-colored beak. David Abrams describes the reverence that the Kuyokon people of modern-day Alaska hold for Owl: “the preeminent prophet or seer among birds.” According to the Kuyokon, when Owl speaks to human persons, the bird “hoots in tones and patterns that can be interpreted. The most terrifying words it can say are “Soon you will cry”…meaning that someone close to you will die. It may even seal the forecast tightly with a name, and not long afterward its omen will be fulfilled.”(The Spell of the Sensuous) Owl sits silently this morning, staring down at me from his perch. Two ravens – glossy and black – swoop low to pester Owl, filling the air with their scolding “Caw, Caw” before turning South across the Brook.
The human dramas and disputes of late often employ the words Facts and Truth. And yet the changes that mark our time seem to plead for stories and language that are deeper and richer and More Mythic than facts and figures and statistics.
What happens to my heart when I learn that my presence on the scene for these past 40 years has conspired in the annihilation of two-thirds of non-human life?
I am afraid this morning – terrified to speak the words aloud. And I am terrified to remain silent. I look around and notice that I am standing in a room surrounded by family and friends and neighbors. We stand in a circle around the death bed of the Way of Living that is all we have known, all we were taught to expect and to treat as normal and ordinary. All we were told we deserved. What we thought our lives were going to look like. We are standing together at the bedside of the Way We Hoped the Story Would Turn Out. I can see clearly that everyone else in the room also knows what is happening. They are afraid, too. And our fear – and the silence it demands – turns the spaces between into vast, uncrossable chasms.
It is in the presence of this heartbreak that we move through our daily paces here at the Farm. Into this silent void we tentatively reach with our voices and our outstretched hands. We invite you each week to join us for Soup and Bread Gift Distribution, where, mysteriously, we find ourselves surrounded by a staggering amount of joy. Perhaps, we tell ourselves, we needn’t be so afraid.
Erika’s Invitation: The Patchwork Commons: A Neighborhood Gardening Project
My name is Erika and I am full of gratitude to share this invitation with you all today. Since May, I have become increasing involved in the work at Brush Brook, forming friendships and diving deeply into thoughts and conversations around gift giving, community and interdependence.
I’ve been confronting the sticky, smelly, uncomfortable reality that we need each other in a deeper way than sharing a fence line. We do not live in isolation. We were born needing each other and continue to need and be needed and yet we constantly create illusions of independence - we build fences. We turn wild, melting, swirling earth into square plots with clear edges. I find fences in many aspects of my life, some that I’m excited to kick down and others that I’m still terrified to even approach. When we tear down fences, we are reintroduced to the idea of commons: land as a gift for the whole of a community. My time at Brush Brook has led me to wonder, “What could happen if we traded fences for commons? If we saw more of what we own as belonging to the community?” I already see an answer to this question emerging at Brush Brook. Fences are crumbling as land owners offer their pastures for the cows and sheep to graze, as farmers give gleaned vegetables, as so many people give an enormous amount of time, energy and gifts to the farm. When these gifts become part of the commons, what can emerge is abundance. Abundance in relationships, shared meals, art, and so many surprising and unimaginable gifts that cannot be contained by borders.
In this spirit, I invite you to join me in taking a small, practical step towards creating more commons by growing food for the weekly soups and for each other in gardens all throughout town. Would you be willing to offer a garden bed? To grow a row of tomatoes? To help weed your neighbor’s plot? Imagine a patchwork of small garden plots scattered around the valley, tended by a community of people - The Patchwork Commons. We will coordinate what is being grown, assist each other by making requests and offering our help and celebrate together in the gift of the harvest.
I would love to hear from you if you are interested! Please reach out by filling out this simple interest form: INTEREST FORM
Soup and Bread Invitation
Please join us this Saturday between 11am and 1pm for Soup and Bread Gift Distribution, where all food is offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. We’ve increased our soup production to 90 quarts/week, assembled from carefully grown and gleaned ingredients. And so we encourage you to stop by, to pick up food for your household as well as some to drop at a neighbor’s on the way home. We are immensely grateful for your companionship.
Here is what you will find in this Letter:
- GIFT DISTRIBUTION DETAILS and FULL MENU
- FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – February 2021 Budget
With Great Care,
Ava, Erik, Collin, Evan and Adam – The Brush Brook Community Farm Team
SOUP and BREAD GIFT DISTRIBUTION: Saturday 2/13, 11am - 1 pm
- Brush Brook Soup – Cabbage Noodles, Kale, Sweet Potato and Potato, Tomato, Beef, Herbs, Bone Broth.
- Vegetarian Soup – Pureed Sweet Potato and Turnip, Tomato, Garlic, Herbs.
Please bring a mask with you and wear warm clothes. We will have Soup and Bread to take home, and encourage you to bring quart containers from home for us to fill for you.
BUDGET UPDATE: Thank you for considering the February 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 Gift Stand, or donate through the website. We are 100% financially supported by these personal financial gifts.
Brush Brook Community Farm – Feb. 2021 Budget
|As of 2/10|
|Gifts Received in Feb – Thank you!||$ 1465.00|
|Estimated Expenses for January|
|Bread Ingredients & Packaging||$ 1,115.50|
|Bakery Overhead (Insur., Electric, etc.)||$ 555.86|
|Bakery Rent||$ 300.00|
|Farm Expenses||$ 1,550.00|
|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|
|Estimated Federal/State Taxes||$ 351.22|
|Paypal Fees||$ 150.00|
|Overage from January||$237.00|
|Total Remaining for January||$ 3768.66|
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.