Photo: Dick Mitchell
Photo: Dick Mitchell

Greetings Friends and Neighbors,

The final morning of the Scythe School arrives and the forecast is clear enough to mow for Hay. Acre: an old measurement of the land area that a skilled person could mow by hand with a scythe in a day. This etymology arrives as humbling news as we aspire to learn to use a scythe and imagine the quality of discipline that must have emerged when the continuation of human life wrested upon a fine hone of blade and an economy of motion. You either mowed enough hay to feed your cattle and sheep or you didn’t. Call it efficiency if you’re standing at a distance. Call it beauty – or grace – if you’re up close. Well, I was in the field with a group of beginning mowers Sunday morning and it wasn’t one hundred percent beauty and grace. Orchard Grass grows there in formidably tough bunches, bringing even the sharpest blade to a stop. Lodged Grass – pushed down by wind and rain – and poorly-honed blades slow things down even further. The field is rectangular, maybe an acre and a half. The human procession works around all four sides, turning right at the corners to form a spiral, until, after a couple of hours, we look up and realize we stand facing one another at the final small square in the center. Group mowing has followed this same pattern for thousands of years. The day’s work – and the School – completed, we gather to offer some closing words beneath the shade of massive, recently-fallen but still-living Basswood limb. Deer have feasted on the leaves of the fallen limb, stripping the twigs bare to about head-high. Beautiful words of praise are offered into the circle to honor and thank the scythe instructors, the elders, the place. Solstice Sun climbs from the Eastern Ridge into a cloudless sky as Barn Swallow hunts the air space just inches above the newly mowed grass. Two Red-Winged Blackbirds chase and then stop to dance in the Meadow. Out of the corner of my eye I catch the glint of something stunning – the possibility of humans being human together. 

Author David Abram – whose remarkable work has offered immense guidance to this little Farm – writes in his book The Spell of the Sensuous: “We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.” Can you imagine the possibility of a more-than-human conviviality – the word meaning, most simply, life together? Does it not break your heart wide open in a time marked by such intense separation? Our work here at the Farm grows from this root, this longing – to remember that human life is not exclusively – or even primarily – a human endeavor. To remember that humans are on the receiving end of something so vast and so generous. To acknowledge that as we receive these gifts – this food, this breath – we oblige ourselves to the maintenance and care of that miraculous something. To contemplate obligation in a society committed to personal freedom is, as Dr. Martin Shaw says, “to hold a door to a hundred acres of thought long banished from the West.” To consider human indebtedness is also, necessarily, to notice and to grieve how our relationships grow ever-more impoverished as we ongoingly abandon this work – the maintenance and care of all that upholds human life.

At Soup and Bread Gift Distribution we invite you to join us as we try to catch a glimpse of human indebtedness and imagine relationships of repair. And there is a surprising amount of Joy that seems to emerge from this practice, even moments of conviviality. This Friday 6/25, from 4-6pm, we will have hundreds of loaves of Fresh Bread and nearly thirty gallons of homemade Soup – delicious served warm or cold with a dollop of yogurt – all offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. The Soup, assembled and seasoned by Erik from last summer’s frozen tomatoes, beets, red onions and eggplant, is deep red and smoky, almost chocolatey. Our neighborhood minstrel Carl Thorton will once again gather his band of old-time musicians to serenade and bless the proceedings. Have you followed the work of the Farm – perhaps read these Newsletters, attended a Work Day, sent in a financial gift, attended the Scythe School – but not made it to Gift Distribution? Here is a not-so-subtle request: These celebratory events serve to make visible the outrageous generosity of the delicate web of human and other-than-human relationships that we refer to as Brush Brook Community Farm, and it would mean a whole lot to us to have you join us. Would you be willing to mark you calendar and stop by this Friday to pick up Soup and Bread for your household and some to drop off to a neighbor on the way home? 

Our work is sustained by your gifts of monies and labors. We just seven days left in the month, we are about $1605 short of our June Financial Gift Request. These monies allow us to keep the rents paid and the lights on. Would you consider making a financial gift to sustain our work? You can do so HERE.

This time of year the fields and gardens are overflowing with work that needs urgent tending. We would love to have you join us for our regular Sunday Work Day, from 1-4pm. Bring a chef’s knife and cutting board if you’d like to help with Soup Prep, long pants for pasture work, or work gloves to join us in the gardens and greenhouses. If you would like to be kept abreast of smaller work gatherings during the week, you can reply to this email with the message, “Please add me to the Helpers List.”

Here is what you will find in this Letter:

  1. FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – Detailed June 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 June 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 - June 2021 Budget
As of June 23
Gifts Received in June – Thank you! $2,214.86
Overage from May $1,358.00
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 $850.00
   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 June $1,605.22

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!