Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
Nearly sixty neighbors of all ages gathered in a circle in the hay meadow last Sunday evening for our Community Conversation, where we took time to honor and give voice to what has been and also began the process of imagining what could be. This is a constant dance for us at the Farm – attempting to hold up the poetic nature of our work while faithfully carrying the beautifully tangible logistics and labors of the Farm. This week’s letter will attend to the poetry by telling the Story of the Community Conversation. Given that we are actively looking for a new Home for our base operations and infrastructure, we will begin in next week’s letter to share some of the more tangible visions and their associated logistics. This week’s Story begins with the notion of Favors. We will be asking a lot of these in the upcoming months as we tend to the harvest and also search and begin to move. The following three invitations – particularly Soup and Bread Distribution and the Work Days – amount to us asking a favor of you. Our work, and the morale that upholds it, will be sustained by your willingness to push aside other possibilities and to choose to attend these events – our weekly invitations to gather. We look forward to seeing you at the Farm!
- Soup and Bread Gift Distribution this Friday 4-6pm. We will have hundreds of loaves of fresh Bread and two delicious Soups, made from carefully grown and gleaned ingredients, all offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. The Brush Brook Soup is made with hearty chunks of gleaned Winter Squash, Peppers and Zucchini as well as Tomatoes, Broccoli, Celery, Sage, Fennel and Thyme from the Garden, slow-roasted Lamb Shoulder and rich Bone Broth. The Vegetarian Soup is a celebration of summer weather: Cream of Cucumber – Pureed Cucumbers, Garlic Scapes, fresh Garden Herbs(Basil, Fennel, Mint and Parsley), and Fresh Cream.
- Our Work Day will be Sunday 1-4pm and will include vegetable processing and soup making, as well as pasture and garden work.
- If you are willing to make a financial gift towards the remaining September Budget Request of $1,826, you can do so HERE.
STORY – Remembering: a Community Conversation
Asking favors can be tricky business these days. How do we decide of whom it is appropriate to ask favors? I remember a conversation I had a couple of years ago with our neighbor Margaret Taft, who, along with her husband Tim, Tim’s parents, and her children milk over two hundred Jersey Cows. Standing in the middle of the dirt road that connects our two farms, she described the neighborhoods here in town just a generation or two ago, when there were more than a dozen dairy farms lining this narrow Valley. Margaret remembered how neighbors looked out for one another, how what we now call ‘favors’ flowed freely, like water, between individual farms and households. Favors, labors and gifts, indebtedness and mutual obligation, shared songs and celebration. The friendship between Margaret’s family’s large conventional dairy farm and Brush Brook has been one of the greatest joys and surprises of the past five years here. The way we raise Cows couldn’t be more different – scale, mechanization, fertilization, marketing, you name it. Also, the Taft family holds leases on most of the high-quality land in town. They rely on this leased land to stay in business. One of our first fields was offered to us by a landowner who had to first break a decades-long lease with them in order to do so. Despite this rocky beginning, Margaret and Tim have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome in their neighborhood, repeatedly extending favors in our direction. I have struggled to imagine what the heck we might have to offer them in return. The relationship amounts to a growing dung-heap of indebtedness. A humbling, if fertile, starting point for a friendship.
Brush Brook Community Farm offers no grand vision for the future. We are not visionaries. There is no gospel of gift economy. More simply, we long deeply to remember some of what we have lost in an age of frenzied forward motion. As the news goes from bad to worse, it seems increasingly clear that we have badly lost our way. Our work – growing, gathering and gleaning, cooking, baking and offering food as a gift, asking hundreds of favors of our neighbors every week in order to continue – amounts to a set of practices. But how do these practices promote remembering? And, has the work proven effective? The word re-member means, etymologically, something like ‘to gather back together parts, or members, of a whole that have become separated.’ A word’s opposite can sometimes help to illuminate its meaning. The mirror image of remember is not actually to forget, but rather the more evocative and troubling word dismember.
Our Community Conversation represented our first attempt to gather and serve warm food to our friends and neighbors since the final Gratitude Feast, where, just four days before the pandemic was announced, we sang, gave thanks, feasted and danced with over a hundred at the Town Hall. We advertised last Sunday’s outdoor conversation and meal and wondered if anyone would join us, given the lingering presence of the Virus and our request for people to speak into a circle of neighbors and strangers, to respond to the question “What does Brush Brook Community Farm mean to you?” We delivered hand-written invitations around town and promised warm Soup and Bread. Maybe that would convince people to come? We decided that even a ten-person conversation would be worthwhile, hoping for thirty or forty. We placed an invitation in the mailbox of our neighbors, Margaret and Tim Taft. Given the long hours they work and the touchy-feely description of the event, I didn’t expect them to come, but still wanted them to know that we value their friendship and their perspective.
The weather forecast for Sunday remained unsettled, with some scattered showers moving through during the day. In the afternoon, a small crew arrived to help chop and prepare the ingredients for an extra-large pot of Soup, enough to serve that evening and also to give away at the Gift Stand the following Friday. Gleaned Winter Squash, Peppers and Zucchini joined Tomatoes, Broccoli, Celery, Sage, Fennel and Thyme from the Garden, as well as three slow-roasted Lamb Shoulders and three gallons of Bone Broth from the winter-slaughtered Lambs. As the Soup Team worked, others set up the site for the event, mowing with scythes a circle into the knee-high alfalfa on a knoll adjacent the cow barn and making a ring of hay bales for seating. Two months prior, in this very spot, we gathered at dawn with a group of friends to sharpen our scythe blades and mow the waist-high grass and alfalfa for hay. Dried and baled and stacked in the barn, we now leaned upon the shared labors from that clear, warm morning as seating for an evening set aside for remembering. Evan and Erik lit a fire to keep the Soup warm, and we all crossed our fingers that people would come. Arrive they did, some with white hair and others with young children in tow. We enlarged the circle to make more room. Nearly sixty people! Good thing we had made so much Soup. As I scanned the faces, I saw Margaret Taft. She had come after all. I walked over and asked if I could squeeze in next to her. I pushed back my tears and my embarrassment, as I had planned to tell the story of the conversation I’d had with her with her in the middle of the road as part of my opening remarks, as a way of describing the community that the Farm’s work longed for. I still told the story. As Sun dropped below the Western Hills, the conversation began. Tentatively at first, names and longings, visions and gratitudes, began to fill the quiet evening air. Potent words poured like well-aged wine onto the ground: Love, Communion, Reciprocity, Commitment, Grief, Joy. Words as our feeble attempts to touch something invisible by finding names for memories and for stories. Before serving the Soup and Bread, we sang a blessing song with the lines, “For the hunger that brings us together…Give thanks, give thanks, give thanks.” Darkness fell as the last of the guests said their goodbyes and walked the moonlit path through the meadow, towards home. Perhaps the meadow had been re-membered, if just for an evening. We are immensely grateful to be engaged in this work with you.
Here is what you will find in this Letter:
- FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – Detailed August 2021 Budget
With Great Care,
Adam and the Brush Brook Community Farm Team
BUDGET UPDATE: Thank you for considering the September 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 - September 2021 Budget|
|As of September|
|Gifts Received in September – Thank you!||$3,097.21|
|Budget Deficit from August||-$245.49|
|Tractor, Freezers and Milkroom Rents||$200.00|
|Bakery Overhead (firewood, insur., utilites)||$250.00|
|Website, Tech, and Office Supplies||$20.00|
|Bread Ingredients & Packaging||$850.00|
|Misc Ingredients (spices, etc)||$30.00|
|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 September||$1,826.36|
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.