Photo by Dick Mitchell

Greetings Friends and Neighbors,

Were you ever scolded as a kid for running at the pool? This memory might help you to imagine the group of us ‘walking’ the Ewes and new Lambs down the road to a new pasture last Sunday, their overflowing excitement for their first big move of the season. Walking was not in the cards, as it turned out, despite our fervent attempts to convince them that it would be safer and less chaotic. 

We continue with our every-other-week Distribution schedule. There is some heartbreak for us in this decision, but also the knowing that in order to set in motion our human-powered haymaking effort and the related Scythe School, there are simply not enough hours to do it all. Thank you in advance for marking your calendars and making your way to join us for Soup and Bread Gift Distribution on Friday 5/28, 4 - 6pm. 

Would you consider joining for one of these upcoming events?

  1. Work Day Sunday 5/23, 1-4pm. These days carry a festive tone. Find more information and signup here: bit.ly/brushbrookworkdays
  1. Experimental Community Conversation Circle for folks over 40 

Is it a Time now for Feasting or for Fasting?
What is being asked of us as we take off our masks?
Contemplating Elderhood in a time of Ecological Crisis

Saturday June 5th – 4pm, followed by a Potluck Dinner

Please RSVP by responding to the email. 

The Story below describes some of the longings that animate this invitation to gather.

  1. Would you consider making a financial gift to support our work? You can find the detailed budget request below, and/or make a gift HERE.

STORY: Sharp Blade, Young Hare, and the Vegetarian

Are there not moments when the experience of being alive is so damn stunning that it actually hurts? It is a distinct kind of pain. Can I really endure this intensity of sensation for a whole day, a week? How will I return to mundane tasks like writing emails after standing in circle with others, unmasked, singing to warm late-spring Sun as he crests and then spills over the high eastern ridge to ignite the dew-studded meadow where we gather? Suddenly we stand in field of sparkling jewels – Emerald and Silver and iridescent Crystal. In the stillness after we finish singing, ‘Roll on Old Sun,’ the air pulses so vividly with the rhythmic chant of the birds that we must raise our voices to a near yell just to hear one another. The silence does not sound very silent, now that we are listening. Woodpecker drums from across the valley to remind the newly arrived Spring singers – human and avian – that there is more than one way to change the texture of the air, that some have labored to sing and drum this place through the long months of Winter. Old Sun rolls on in the presence of these reminders, these invitation – these many voices bargaining for beauty. 

In week two of the Scythe School, we will begin to mow Grass in the presence of the morning scene described above – the meadows glistening with dew and the air pulsing with song. And we are terribly excited. As lead scythe-instructor Michaela is fond of saying, ‘Wet Grass cuts like butter.’ When the blade is sharp and the swing steady, Grass will indeed lay down in tidy rows with surprisingly little effort. Of course, it doesn’t begin or end this way – all grace and beauty. There is a story that I haven’t yet told to the Scythe School cohort. Last summer, in this very same field, at this same early hour on a Sunday, I was mowing along when suddenly Young Hare sprang from the Grass at my feet and ran off. But Young Hare’s gait was uneven, staggering. I followed, and as Hare stopped running, I watched it lay down and take its’s last breath. With my razor-sharp scythe blade I had sliced the young one right through, and now its brightly-colored innards spilled onto the ground. As I stood there, utterly stunned, I remembered the words of one of my early farming teachers. Oren said to a group of us eager students – gathered on a foggy California hillside on the first day of class – “To be a vegetarian you have to kill, kill, kill.” I was a vegetarian at the time. That summer I was tasked with setting and emptying – by way of a shot-powered pellet gun – the many dozens of Gopher and Ground Squirrel traps that lined the perimeter of the Farm and made it so that there were any vegetable crops to harvest to feed us hungry students, as well as those who had purchased CSA shares. I killed hundreds of small furry animals that summer, and it wasn’t long before I didn’t introduce myself as a vegetarian any more. 

Something comes thundering into view as you begin to try to feed yourself from the place where you live. You are forced to look square at all the taking that goes into keeping just one human alive. And that’s just food calories. Add in clothing, shelter, transportation, entertainment, etc., and it gets dizzying in a hurry. You might catch a glimpse – if you can bear to keep your eyes open – of the disconnect between your desires and their consequences on the other end of the line. While your eyes are open you might also notice one desire that operates very differently than the others – the weft thread that gives structure to the cloth. It’s less a desire, actually, and more of a longing: to cause as little harm as possible. 

The Farm here sits in the middle of a narrow Valley, formed by lines of North-South running hills. You can stand on the valley floor and see the geographical boundary of the town, which is roughly the watershed drained by the Huntington River. Imagine, for a moment, if those of us who live here stopped taking anything from anywhere else and began to derive our lives from this narrow Valley. I have imagined this scenario many times. Factories producing electronic and plastic gadgets would spring up in abandoned meadows where Deer previously nursed their Fawns and Bobolinks nested. Solar panels and wind turbines would soon cover the open slopes, glinting in the Sun and groaning in the Wind. Logging for new home construction and heating and toilet paper would quickly outpace the ability of the forested hills to regenerate. Sawmills and Papermills would tinge the air with their acrid smokes. Garbage, no longer exported, would build up at a giant landfill in the middle of town. Would we figure out how to produce cars from materials that we could mine here in the Valley, or decide, together, that we could not bear the impact of that project upon our common home? The scenario quickly breaks down in all directions as we cast our fishing lines out into the world and try to imagine whether we have the strength to reel in the sea monsters who roil and snag at the other end of the line. 

We are wondering and watching, listening and asking one another, ‘How will we imagine how to live in a time when so much beauty is endangered, when most of what we call Our Lives lingers out there like a phantom – beyond reach and beyond view?’ When our relations – those who feed and clothe and shelter and transport and entertain us – are unknown to us and to one another? When the family is scattered, the cloth threadbare, tattered. 

It is in the presence of this impossible beauty and this heartbreaking sorrow that we proceed with our work here at the Farm. It is in the presence of all of this that we invite you to stop by to pick up Soup and Bread, to chop vegetables, to help us walk the Sheep Flock down the road on a sunny Sunday afternoon as the air fills with a chaotic chorus of Ewes calling to their Lambs and Children screaming with delight. It is in the presence of all of this that we tentatively reach out for a first hug in over a year, eyes pregnant with the weight of long-held tears. 

It is in the presence of all of this that we invite you to gather with us to imagine, together, how we might step into this churning moment:

Is it a Time now for Feasting or for Fasting?
What is being asked of us as we take off our masks?
Contemplating Elderhood in a time of Ecological Crisis

Saturday June 5th – 4pm

Listening and Speaking Circle for folks over 40, followed by a Potluck Dinner

Please reach out with your RSVP’s or questions. Perhaps we can do something together that was not possible in isolation. Thank you kindly for reading.

Here is what you will find in this Letter:

  1. FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – Detailed May 2021 Budget

With Great Care, 

Ava, Erika, Kristen, Erik, Collin, Evan and Adam – The Brush Brook Community Farm Team

BUDGET UPDATE: Thank you for considering the May 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. 

BBCF - May 2021 Budget
As of May 18
Gifts Received in May – Thank you! $4,248.00
Overage from April $55.00
Estimated Expenses
    Bakery Rent $300.00
    Tractor, Freezers and Milkroom Rents $200.00
    Bakery Overhead (firewood, insur., utilites) $250.00
    Website, Tech, and Office Supplies $20.00
Farm Expenses
   Livestock (animals/feed/services) $800.00
   Bread Ingredients & Packaging $937.50
   Misc Ingredients (spices, etc) $30.00
   Fencing $150.00
   Hosting and Educational $200.00
   Vehicles (gas, maintn., insur. etc) $150.00
Predicted Human Expenses
   Collin McCarthy Rent & Utilities $580.00
   Adam Wilson Rent $200.00
   Erik Weil Rent $500.00
   Adam Wilson personal stipend $448.08
Infrastructure Maintenance and Project Fund $300.00
Total Estimated Expenses $5,065.58
Total Remaining for May $762.58

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.

Thank you!