Photo: John Hadden

Greetings Friends and Neighbors,

South Wind howls in the treetops, ushering in unseasonably warm nights and mild, moist days. If not for the lengthening darkness and the autumnal display on the hillsides, one could mistake the season for another. The Valley is postcard perfect this time of year. Brilliant foliage, abundant wildlife, good schools, well-tended farm fields, fixed-up old farmhouses with fuel-efficient cars in the driveway. But what about the lengthening darkness? The steady news that our ways of living irreversibly degrade the soils, waters, and weathers that feed, clothe and shelter us? That others more vulnerable will bear the consequence of our lives long before us – that they already do? News that we have set in motion the mass-extinction of non-human life? Might we be mistaking one season for another? We seem terribly afraid to say the word ‘dying’ aloud. Unsure when we are supposed to acknowledge that the accumulating symptoms add up to a terminal diagnosis. Unsure whether we stand around the death bed of our way of living or on a threshold, looking out into a world full of yet-to-be-discovered chemo-therapies and ever-more powerful life support systems. 

We’ve been practicing saying this to one another here at the Farm: Brush Brook Community Farm, as we have known it, is dying. What is to spring again from this fertile ground cannot be seen from here. And so, how shall we be with one another in a time that includes dying? What conversations need to be undertaken that could be comfortably pushed aside before? Grief for the way things are has always been at the center of our work. Grief as distinct from Despair. Grief as distinct from Grievance. Grief as distinct from Criticism. Some have admitted feeling criticized by the Farm’s work, the wonderings and questions in these Letters. It’s not that I don’t understand this reaction. I notice myself slipping into self-reflexive thought patterns with some regularity. I just don’t know that it is particularly helpful to those who will come after us. Perhaps this is one way that our time will be remembered by the future generations; the people kept themselves busy blaming – and feeling blamed by – one another as the ship went down. But Grief sounds more like a sob than a scold. More like a mournful wail than a moral castigation. In a society that seems desperate for solutions, our work resolutely offers none. Many questions, no answers. In a time that seems desperate for our honest, confounded sorrow, we have tried our best to offer something useful. 

And so it seems important to hold up our commitment to Grief as we plan the work that will be required to close down the Gift Stand and pack up our things. Dying is messy. And it is a lot of work. It doesn’t fit neatly into our ordered, well-planned and hopeful lives. But could dying also be joyful? Does anyone even ask this question aloud? If one question brings us close to center of the work of Brush Brook it might be this one – could dying also include many moments of unruly, unreasonable joy? Many of you have labored or feasted with us over the past years. Others, caught a glimpse of the Farm through the lens of these Letters. Perhaps you’ve experienced the joy that seems to bubble up from the ground everywhere here at the Farm. You’ve brought some of it with you, made more during your stay, and left the ground littered with it after you’ve departed. There’s more joy – even beauty – to be made amid the dying. Think about how the leaves of Old Maple go out – unruly, unreasonable beauty. Would you set aside the time to stop by to visit with us this month? To labor and to feast alongside us?

We will host four more Sunday Work Days in October. We invite you to join us for one of these days and to share freshly-made hot Soup and Bread with us afterwards.  Here are the details:

Work Day this Sunday 10/10, 1-4pm. Warm Soup and Bread will be served once we finish clean up, around 4:30pm. Bring: A bowl and spoon, warm clothes, a cutting board and knife to join the Soup Team or work gloves for field and garden projects.

Save the Date: Apple Gratitude Celebration Sunday 10/17, 10am – 4pm. In addition to our regular Work Day from 1-4pm next Sunday, we will be pressing cider and preparing apples for sauce. Apple gathering around town on Saturday 10/16. More details to come in next week’s Letter. 

Soup and Bread Gift Distribution Friday 4-6pm. The Bread has been going fast, and so we encourage you to stop by on Fridays rather than waiting until the weekend. The Brush Brook Soup this week features Roasted Delicata Squash, Potatoes, Carrots, Peppers, Zucchini, Tomatoes, a whole leg of Lamb, as well as fresh garden herbs: Basil, Sage, Fennel, Thyme and Scallions. The Vegetarian Soup is made from pureed Carrots, Sweet Potato and Tomato, finished with a bit of Maple Syrup and Ginger. Serve with Cream or Milk, if you wish. All food is offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason.

If you are willing to make a financial gift towards the remaining October Budget Request of $3998, you can do so HERE.

Participatory Agriculture: Visioning Statements from the Community Conversation   – Evan 

Water Protector and indigenous farmer Winnona LaDuke writes that she is not trying to grow food for people so much as with people. This is our longing too: to get our hands in the dirt with our neighbors and friends; to share in the labor with the same folks with whom we share in the feast. We’ve come to notice just how joyful this work can be, and how much can get done, when folks are willing to make time in their days to tend to the soils, plants and animals that tend to them. We wonder about what it means to not just support your farmer, but to embrace the power and ongoing responsibility of being an Eater. We imagine a community where people have origin stories for the foods on their plate, stories in which perhaps they are a character themselves.

The variability and beauty of the work we undertake here would be hard to capture. Most folks know about weeding the garden, chopping veggies, and setting up cow fencing, but our labors here include a huge array of other tendings. We convert lawn to veg fields, render animal fat into candles to light our homes, apprentice to the art of hide tanning, scavenge for wild apples, match yogurt containers to lids, mow hay by hand with Scythes and songs, fell and buck dead hillside Elms, butcher lambs in late December, scrub bakery floors on hands and knees, court patches of wild ramps in the Spring, and so much more. We long to share the joys and hardships of endless, beautiful, productive work.

As you know, we already share some labors. And, we imagine a future with more than a few Work Party attendees, and more folks committed to tending, learning, and engaging in the work.

Making this part of the vision happen would require some commitment from you, our neighbors, as well as real infrastructure, including space to keep hosting Work Parties, winterized spaces for group processing, facilities to host feasts and other large gatherings, and a kitchen where the fruits of a Participatory Agriculture can be crafted into participatory meals. Thank you for imagining this vision with us - we invite you to it wholeheartedly.

Here is what you will find in this Letter:

  1. FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – Detailed October 2021 Budget

With Great Care, 

Adam, Evan 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 - October 2021 Budget
As of October 5
Gifts Received in October – Thank you! $895.00
Overage from September $447.74
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 $1,412.50
   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 $680.00
   Adam Wilson Rent $200.00
   Adam Wilson personal stipend $448.08
Infrastructure Maintenance and Project Fund $500.00
Total Estimated Expenses $5,340.58
Total Remaining for October $3,997.84

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!