Greetings Friends and Neighbors,

This is Evan writing today - I hope you don’t miss Adam too much as we share the joy and labor of producing this newsletter! It’s been a pleasure to hear responses and reactions to Erika’s and Ava’s writing from last week. Please know we always invite and welcome replies with whatever these letters might stir in your mind and heart: this project is a discussion and we invite your voice to it.

Today I’ll share stories from the Breadstand, a budget update (there is about $1,900 remaining in our August budget with just a few days to go!) and Erika’s reflection on what Brush Brook means to her.

Bread and Soup Distribution is a ritual with a continued capacity to amaze me. It seems fitting to write about it as many of you first met me at the Bread Stand: it was from behind that makeshift table that I began encountering the humans of Huntington in May of 2020. I’ve carried with me since my first bake in early pandemic times the dark knowledge of how much love and care goes into those loaves. Still, as you know, bread distribution (or “Distro” as we lovingly call it) is often a downright joyous affair. The joyousness of it all nearly doubled earlier this summer when Erika invited our scything, song-farming friend Carl Thornton to bless us with his musical gifts. Carl generously obliged and has been at most Distros since, along with one or three other musicians. 

That first Distro with music I noticed a box in front of our local bards with CDs for sale and a small place for money. I puzzled over its meaning and significance in between breadstand “customers.” I wondered what my peers would think—the Farm Team members who, like me, have (for better or worse) cultivated a keen eye for modes of exchange: how prices, gifts and barters underlie the movements of things. Sure enough, at our next Farm Team meeting the innocuous little box came up, and we wondered about it together.

If you have a sense of our shared passions and root convictions (and the sheer amount of time the Farm Team spends together) you may be surprised to hear that there are no hard rules about our operation at Brush Brook... other than perhaps one: Nothing is sold. Nothing. Often phrased thus, it doesn’t leave much wiggle room. But what about Carl, JB and the generous musicians? Should they not be able to distribute their music and ask for support in return? If money is what’s needed and the CD has a cost of production, why not ask it? And worse: who the heck are we to determine how business gets done?

There’s a special thing that happens when the so-called “gift economy” bumps into the market economy: an alchemical confusion of values and fairness. The assumptions of one system meet the assumptions of the other on conscious and subconscious levels. In these moments I’m left wondering what’s gone unexamined in the ways we pass around foods, services and resources. In a timeplace where the earth itself has a price tag, should everything that follows after be bought and sold too, or is it more important than ever to give as surely as the fruit trees and freely as the songbirds?

I have my thoughts, but know that our default modes have their place, too, and that change need be made care-fully. We ended up asking Carl his thoughts, sharing that we wouldn’t want to hurt his business or livelihood, but also strive to cultivate spaces where little is tracked and nothing is sold. He understood immediately and decided not to put out the box. We’re excited to keep navigating the spaces where the economies meet, and are grateful to be participants in the massive flows of energy and life around us.

We would like to invite you to:

A Community Conversation 

and Simple Farm Meal – please bring a bowl and spoon!

Sunday 9/12, 5-7pm – outside at the Farm

We are asking for your help as we:

Pause and Reflect on three years of giving gifts.
Share the challenges and dreams of the Farm
Imagine our next chapter together.

Please RSVP by replying to this email with: 

“I’ll be there for the community conversation”

In preparation for that gathering, we’d like to ask you, What does Brush Brook Community Farm mean to you? We’ve been asking ourselves too, and will share some of those thoughts in the Newsletters leading up to the Conversation. This week it’s my honor to introduce the garden tending, sun loving, pantry managing, community building, (and the love of my life) Erika.

What does Brush Brook mean to you? | Erika Flickner

I hear Brush Brook in the song of birds
Who find ways to speak without using words
A song each learned from their mother’s mother
That they’ll pass down to one another
A song that holds ancient belief,
greeting the day with gratitude and grief

I feel Brush Brook in the chilling water
She draws me in, whispering “Daughter,
I have stories to share from long ago
I have words to give, do you still know
how to listen to a babbling brook?

Remember! Remember!” and I am shook
by her dancing current, she licks my sweat
I am bound to her in eternal debt

I smell Brush Brook in the compost
In rich soil; a welcoming host
to death, decay, to life in descent
Yet there is more to this thick scent
For in the soil is a deep magic
that brings forth new life, redeems the tragic

I hold Brush Brook as I hold
The hands of humans young and old,
willing to give, receive, create,
To share in life and navigate
ways of being, ways of wondering
ways of grace in times of blundering
To welcome grief, to welcome the weather
To welcome the work that brings us together

You’ve generously given over $2,700 this month, which leaves about $1,900 in our August budget with just less than a week remaining! Your financial gifts are our sole source of income and are how we pay to keep the lights on, buy the grain, and pay the rents of the farmers who have rents. You can always see the detailed budget at the bottom of the newsletter on the website, and make a financial gift HERE. If you have any questions about our work or finances, please do not hesitate to ask.

Soup and Bread will be available for self-serve from 9am-5pm at the Gift Stand this Friday-Sunday. All food is offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. 

Our Work Day this Sunday 8/29 from 1-4pm will include Soup Making (bring a cutting board and a knife), Garden and Pasture Work. It would be an honor to share in the labors of the farm with you!

With Great Care, 

Evan, Erika and the Brush Brook Community Farm Team


BBCF - August 2021 Budget
As of August 24
Gifts Received in August – Thank you! $2,546.21
Overage from July $223.00
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
   Adam Wilson personal stipend $448.08
Infrastructure Maintenance and Project Fund $300.00
Total Estimated Expenses $4,678.08
Total Remaining for August $1,908.87

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!