Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
In-creeping Darkness and Cold leave nothing untouched here at the Farm. The green landscape, clad in summer’s finery, begins to disrobe. A rambunctious, fiery descent – from lush and lavish to leaf-bare, austere. How do we say farewell to something so precious – the touch of Warm Sun on skin – even as it begins to fade away? This week’s Story of meeting Hellen Phillips, one of the oldest surviving homesteader/farmers in town, offers inspiration for the first two of the Visioning Statements, offered by the Farm Team at the Community Conversation: Feeding from Place: Non-Market Eating and Education and Elders.
Here is the lineup:
- Soup and Bread Gift Distribution this Friday 9/24, 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 and Potatoes as well as Tomatoes, Basil, Sage, Fennel and Thyme from the Garden, slow-roasted Leg of Lamb 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. Please join us!
- If you are willing to make a financial gift towards the remaining September Budget Request of $1240, you can do so HERE.
- STORY: Blowing on the Coals of the Old Stories: Meeting Helen Phillips
- Visioning Statements: Feeding from Place: Non-Market Eating and Education and Elders.
- 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 $1,239.80, you can do so HERE.
STORY: Blowing on the Coals of the Old Stories: Meeting Helen Phillips, - Adam
I had the immense privilege of meeting ninety-five-year-old Helen Phillips this week. I’d asked her son Lawrence if we might graze the Cows through the unmowed fields down the road from his place. A modest white farmhouse with black shutters stands there along with two small barns. Narrow hayfields straddle the busy Hollow Road, one of only two paved roads in town. “We will need to run water from the house,” I say, and so Lawrence sends me down to meet his sister Patty and his mother Helen. I am to ask them about the water. I park the car and walk toward the house with a loaf of bread and a quart of soup to offer as a gift. This has become such a big part of what we do at Brush Brook – approach private landowners and ask them for pasturage and water. In return we promise to do our best to raise cows and sheep from the unused grass and to offer the meat – cooked into soup – with no charge at our weekly Stand. “You must be Adam,” Patty says when I knock on the screen door. I try to describe the Farm in a sentence or two, handing her the bread and soup. She is clearly moved by the gift. And then the stories start rolling. Patty tells me that her father grew up on a sprawling hilltop farm at the other end of town, where her grandparents milked cows and farmed with horses. They built the smaller farmhouse there for her father and Helen when they married, in the fifties. The family sold that Farm toward the end of the decade for twelve thousand dollars. I realize that the property Patty describes, with its commanding views, just sold for 1.2 million. The main farmhouse and the dairy barn are long gone from there, and the extensive fields haven’t been mowed for hay in many years. The small house – built for her parents as a wedding gift – now stands alone on the hilltop, surrounded by a vast sea of Goldenrod, Dogbane and purple Asters, dwarfed by the grandeur of the landscape. After moving down off the hill, Helen and her husband settled here, in the Hollow, to raise their four young children. On this much smaller farm they raised dairy heifers for sale, and, from the sound of Patty’s childhood memories, they maintained a proper homestead. A Jersey Cow produced fresh milk and cream for the house. Helen churned some of that cream into bright yellow butter for the kids. I hear about the Pigs and the extensive gardens and the hard work of bringing in the hay. Patty invites me into the kitchen to meet Helen. Helen doesn’t seem to be able to speak, but she nods and offers a smile as Patty tells her my name and explains that we will be bringing Cows back to the Farm. I look around the old farmhouse kitchen and imagine all that the house has seen – processing and preserving, butchering and butter-making. I am awash in longing for the old ways. Time stretches to a thin, translucent membrane. It is very difficult to leave. I eventually write my name and phone number on a small notepad and say goodbye. Patty looks at me with deep kindness in her eyes and says, “This is a wonderful thing you are doing. You are a blessing.” My tears are close as I walk back down the gravel driveway. To live and work in the presence of these memories is to be on the receiving end of blessings. If our work can offer blessings in return by blowing on the coals of these old stories – then we’ll keep blowing until we’ve got no more breath left.
Vision Statement: Feeding from Place, Non-Market Eating - Erika
Part of our work here has been to eat primarily from the farm and our partner farms in the area caught up in an ongoing exchange of food gifts. In wondering how to be in deep relationship with land, with our food, and with each other, we long to be fed by this valley (in spite of the occasional temptation of the grocery store or market). While the work to do so has been extremely satisfying, it has been no small task. It asks for a high level of commitment from each of us - a commitment to abandon certain eating habits, to trade personal preference for what is overflowing in the freezers, and to prepare for the Winter months. It asks us to commit to each other too, to see that we are each fed and doing our part. This shift in diet has been full of joy, gratitude and celebration. We long to extend this opportunity to all of you: we imagine a larger community of people also committed to being fed from this place and taking on the multifaceted work of giving and receiving gifts, adjusting our diets, and eating what the landscape offers.
Our diet is huge and diverse in many ways, but also includes many limits: limits imposed by the landscape, by the season, by how much we are able to harvest, glean and preserve, and who our friends are. We eat the bread year-round as our main starch and eat the bodies of our cows and sheep. We render their fat to cook with, grow some vegetables, and partner with Burnt Rock and other local farms to glean lots of unsalable produce. We gift bread and labor to the Donnegans in Hinesburg; they gift us incredible milk. We ferment vegetables, freeze tomato and kale, and eat a lot of cabbage. We buy salt and some spices, and the grains for the bakery.
This requires a good deal of infrastructure, and the vision of expanding this Circle of Eaters asks for even more: a walk-in cooler for fresh and fermented veg, freezer space (we currently have seven chest freezers), processing space with a stove and oven and plenty of space for chopping. We would also be looking for a place to distribute and share the food, and, of course, veg fields for growing in. Would you be willing to join us in this joyful work of eating the gifts of this valley?
Vision Statement: Education and Elders - Ava
Part of our vision for our work and community includes us offering immersive educational experiences based on deepening a relationship with place, land, and one another. In some ways, our weekly Work Day's serve as an educational space as we labor together in service of the place and learn from the garden, the animals, the plants. We'd love to deepen this practice and offer the opportunity to question more fully how to be in right-relationship with a specific place. Another facet to the idea of a "school" is to uphold traditions and practices of old, inviting members of the community into mentorship and teaching roles and inviting spaces for intergenerational knowledge transfer. Along these same lines, we also hold a longing to offer care, support, and partnership to elders within the community, as they care for us with their gifts in turn. We wonder what care and reliance and interdependence might look like within the context of the Farm, with members of the community supporting one another in meaningful, life-giving ways, across all ages.
This aspect of the vision would require specific infrastructure such as gathering and hosting spaces, and a kitchen to prepare meals for students and elder residents. Our potential to host a school and elders will also depend on our collective capacity to flexibly host and house learners and teachers of all ages.
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 21|
|Gifts Received in September – Thank you!||$3,683.77|
|Remaining Budget 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||$1,239.80|
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.