Greetings Friends and Neighbors,

As forested hills spring to leaf they cover the ground at their feet in cool shade. Ramps, drinkers of early spring sunlight, recede now, their leaves yellowing and soon rotting back into the soil. Thank you, Ramps, for your spicy-sweet, for your generous and ephemeral way. Woods Nettles emerge from the same leaf-littered ground, offering a subtle sting to the bare shin and a life-affirming green color to the breakfast skillet and the Soup Pot. The Woods are alive with food this time of year, long before the first garden harvest. 

This week’s Soups includes both of these generous wild foods – the final harvest of Ramps and the first of the Nettles. We are thrilled to invite you back to Soup and Bread Gift Distribution this Friday 5/28 from 4-6pm. In addition to the Soups, we will have hundreds of loaves of fresh Bread, all offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. We will continue our ever-other-week schedule, and so we encourage you to pick up food for 2 weeks, as both keep well in the fridge or freezer. The next Distribution will be Friday June 11th. 

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.

Here a short list of events and stories:

  1. Tree Planting Saturday 10am-2pm
  2. Work Day Sunday 1-4pm
  3. Community Conversation: Contemplating Elderhood in a time of Ecological Crisis, Saturday 6/5, 4pm. RSVP’s requested.
  4. Mowing Stories: The Long View, the Short View and the Wake.

Tree Planting

We would love your help putting hundreds of trees in the ground in the name of riverbank restoration along the Huntington River. Planting will go from 10am – 2pm on Saturday 5/29. Feel free to come for any amount of that time. Park at BBCF and walk 50 feet South, turning right onto the mowed path on the far side of the Brush Brook bridge, which will lead directly to the planting site. Bring a shovel and gloves if you can. Kids welcome. Questions? Email Evan at evanchoyt@gmail.com

Work Day  

We will host our weekly Work Day on Sunday 1-4pm. bit.ly/brushbrookworkdays Would you consider joining us as we tend to pastures, gardens and pantry?

Invitation to Gather: Contemplating Elderhood in a time of Ecological Crisis

I will admit some sadness to have heard from so few folks over 40 in response to the invitation to gather and imagine how we might step together into this churning moment – a time marked by cascading ecological and social troubles. Perhaps it is foolhardy to imagine that turning towards grief at a time of newly-returning freedoms would appeal to most. That said, many who are below the age cutoff have reached out to me to express a heartbroken longing to be a part of a conversation like this, and maybe one of them will invite their peers to gather in a similar way. Their heartbreak is all the reason I need to ensure that the conversation does indeed take place, as it will next Saturday. We would love to have you join us:

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

Speaking and Listening 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.

Mowing Stories: The Long View, the Short View, and the Wake

A simple wooden rack holds twenty razor-sharp scythes in the middle of the hilltop clearing that serves as our early-morning gathering place. It is week two of the Scythe School. Dark Clouds roll heavily across the sky, obscuring the top of the high ridge that rises to the East, on the far side of the Valley. Air is warm and thick. Ewes and Lambs graze just below us, off the shoulder of the hill. In greeting, we sing one of our work songs, ‘Roll on Old Sun.’ Michaela begins with a tool introduction, speaking the words snath, beard, peen, haft and hone as she gives voice to the particularities of the steam-bent Ash handle and the crescent-shaped steel blade, and the peculiar techniques employed to maneuver and maintain this fine and fearsome grass-cutting tool. She has us break into small groups to begin mowing, each with a different instructor. For some this is their first time asking their body to move in this way. “Keep your blade on the ground through the whole swing if you want it to cut cleanly,” reminds one of the teachers. Over the course of a couple hours, the grass does indeed begin to lay down behind the blades. The dance has begun. 

Here’s something you will notice very quickly as you begin: Unless you are following an existing edge, it is nearly impossible to mow in a straight line. You can attempt this by picking a tree or other landmark on the far side of the field and trying to orient yourself accordingly. This is the long view. The action of mowing, however, requires you to sweep the blade in parallel arcs on the ground, stepping forward just 2-4 inches with each stroke. Your eyes must remain fixed on the lilt and lean of the ground and the specific plants just a few feet in front of you. The short view. Look up every so often and re-locate that tree that you were headed towards – still standing out there, aspirational. But looking up requires you to stop moving forward, slows your progress. What happens, then, if you stop and turn around? What you see will likely fill you with a mix of emotions. Your work lays there, testament to your presence on the scene and your passage through the field – grass cut and formed neatly, or not-so-neatly, into a row. But your trail is always more winding than you imagined, more imperfect, messy. More a story than a line. 

There is a word that seems important here: Wake. Author Stephen Jenkinson writes, “Wake is a noun you’ll recognize as meaning ‘something that ripples out behind you,’ as in ‘making your way through water.’ But a wake is also that event that is prompted by endings of all kinds, and by death. Put them together and you see that wake means something like ‘the array of consequences that fans out from what happens or what is done, intentional and otherwise, whether in water or in life.’”(Come of Age, 2018)

In mowing – and perhaps in life – there is the long view, or where you think you are headed. And then there is the short view – how you observe the ground that rises to meet you as you take each step and the particulars of how you respond, how you move. And then there is the trail you leave behind you, the way you have changed the field by passing through. And there is much to observe when you turn around and walk back down your row. The grace of your stroke can be informed by your willingness to witness and learn from that which you have left behind. We spend an awful lot of time facing forward as modern people, in the direction of travel. Our story of progress seems to mandate this orientation – our gaze straight ahead with both hands on the wheel as we speed away from our exhaust fumes. And it also seems that we spend dangerously little time looking back at our consequence, which trails out behind us – as a teacher.

The day before the first meeting of the Scythe School someone left a beautiful gift at the Self-Serve Stand – a stack of photocopies of a poem by Wendell Berry titled Work Song: A Vision. Wendell, a remarkably wise author/poet/farmer, serves as an unwitting elder to this little Farm and its unfolding plea for a better day. In this poem, Wendell seems to weave together these three ways of seeing – the long view, the short view and the wake. He gathers the past back into our efforts to imagine how we will make our way across the field, towards that distant hedgerow with its trees now bursting into leaf.

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we will never know it,
and over it, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be
green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground. They will take
nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting. Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.

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 25
Gifts Received in May – Thank you! $4,566.00
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 $444.58

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!