Photo by Ben Sklar
Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
Last Saturday the hoophouse – graciously warmed by Sun from below zero to warm-enough – buzzed with life. Many of our neighbors stopped by for Soup and Bread, and a few bundled and masked words of greetings and thanks. We are so grateful to you all for helping us to keep our heads above water during this lonely pandemic winter, and we mean socially more than materially or financially. Soup and Bread Gift Distribution will be held again this Saturday from 11am – 1pm. The Soup this week includes a very special ingredient, and the story is told below. All food at the Stand is offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. If you are looking for ways to help out at the Farm, we send out occasional emails when we have outdoor projects to a small list of folks who are regular helpers. If you’d like to receive those emails you can respond to this letter. Our larger Work Days will resume as the Snow recedes. Thanks to those who sent in Gifts this week. We have received $2693 this month, leaving $2540 to go to meet our February Budget Request. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can make a gift HERE. This week’s story wonders how a farm might serve as a site of reparations, with a nudge from indigenous scholar Dr. Kim TallBear’s powerful talk, A Sharpening of the Already Present: Settler Apocalypse 2020.
STORY: Thawing Frozen Water Pipes as the Apocalypse Approaches.
So much of the work here at the Farm is at once beautiful, humbling and utterly mundane. This past weekend three of the four water sources that we depend on to bake the bread and water the animals froze, and thusly many hours and various methods were required to get the water flowing again. Last evening, we officially welcomed two new members to the Farm Team – Kristen and Erika – and then, as a group of seven, looked at the week ahead to devise a plan for how we might cover the varied tasks that keep the Gift Stand Open – and the water flowing. Evan has taken on the role of lead meeting facilitator, and told me after the meeting that the challenge of helping seven complicated humans consent to a plan for the week in ninety minutes offers him an enlivening thrill. Thank goodness for that! The meeting was actually quite a moving thing to be a part of. Evan is helping us to learn sociocracy, a collaborative governance structure first implemented by a Danish businessman, which promises to distribute responsibility and power while maintaining some semblance of efficiency. Sociocracy offers a decision-making model based on ‘consent,’ which, to us, echoes the longing articulated in the Farm’s mission: to extend reparations to the more-than-human world by amending our relationships – both human to human and human to all that is not human. Could reparations be re-imagined simply as gifts that repair? And what might consent look in our human and non-human relationships? In practice, last night, consent looked like deciding who is going to decide how to decide whether or not to send vegetables home with people on Saturday to chop for Soup. Do you see what I mean by beautifully mundane?
To tell stories from the Farm in these weekly Letters seems to necessitate also describing the vast and intractable ecological and social troubles that inform and inspire the work here. How else would we remember what it is that we long to repair? We have heard more than once, “This thing you all are doing is really different.” Trying to describe our highly-imperfect attempts to do something different in this public format promises to stir things up, and the Farm has at times become a lightning rod for various strong emotions and discontents. Does the lightning rod make the lightning? Or does it make electricity visible and audible by calling forth the charge already latent in the air? And what happens to the electricity once it passes into the ground?
Two years ago, I attended the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont(NOFA-VT) Winter Conference. Enid Wonacott, the organization’s director for 30 years, had died just weeks prior. Emotions ran high in the room as the conference convened. Among the first words offered to the hundreds gathered in the Hall were these: “We acknowledge that we gather today on unceded Abenaki territory.” NOFA-VT decided to do something different by naming aloud what promised to be unsettling for many in the audience. At the conference I attended a workshop titled, “Re-imagining Land Ownership from an Indigenous Perspective.” Reparations were on the table. At this workshop I learned, for the first time, that many Native Americans use the word ‘settler’ to refer to me, a person of European descent living on land now occupied by the United States. I am grateful for the courage of those at NOFA-VT to use their platform to raise up marginalized voices and perspectives, and I see the ripples of that courage in the unfolding work here at Brush Brook. NOFA-VT’s 2021 Winter Conference continues through the first week of March, with varied digital offerings each week. Find information on how to participate HERE.
Livy from NOFA-VT reached out to us last summer to ask how much we would charge to grind into cornmeal the heirloom Abenaki corn growing as part of a collaborative revitalization project. She was working with Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. As you might imagine, we responded that we would be honored to grind the corn, but we would not be willing to receive payment. This all came to pass. Traditional varieties of squash and beans were also grown at several host farms, gardens and homesteads and processed to be distributed, along with the cornmeal, by Chief Stevens as a gift to his citizens. To our surprise, Chief Stevens walked into the Gift Distribution hoophouse last Saturday with a big smile on his face. We have grown adept at detecting smile lines extending from beneath a mask. On his shoulder he carried a huge box of this Abenaki squash that he had brought to offer us as a gift, to contribute to the “good work” we are doing. Look for these big smiling pieces of bright orange squash in this week’s Brush Brook Soup.
Given these complex and uncomfortable histories that stand alongside us in this present moment, I will use this platform to raise up the voice of a brilliant indigenous scholar named Dr. Kim TallBear, a professor of Native Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. In this talk, published last October, Dr. TallBear articulates an indigenous perspective on the ecological and social turmoil of our time, including a deeper consideration of reparations. What Dr. TallBear sees from where she stands is indeed unsettling, and her words are bold and urgent. I am grateful for her courage. Here is a link to the talk, titled A Sharpening of the Already Present: Settler Apocalypse 2020.
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, Erika, Kristen, Erik, Collin, Evan and Adam – The Brush Brook Community Farm Team
SOUP and BREAD GIFT DISTRIBUTION: Saturday 2/20, 11am - 1 pm
- Brush Brook Soup – Cabbage Noodles, Kale, Abenaki Squash, 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 2/17|
|Gifts Received in Feb – Thank you!||$ 2693.00|
|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||$237.00|
|Total Remaining for February||$ 2540.66|
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.