The first hard frosts have been rolling through the farm this week, killing our husk cherries, frying peppers, amaranth flowers, many of our zinnias, and nipping some of our field greens (though they recovered). The first hard frost is a milestone event of the harvest year; the beginning of a new chapter; the first salvo of Old Man Winter; a cause for reflection; a time for thanks.
Kayta and I both grew up in the suburbs and like all Americans, we encountered those odd, ubiquitous expressions speckled throughout out our vernacular — “three shakes of a lamb's tail”, “like a horse whose seen the barn”, “make hay while the sun shines”, "coming home to roost", “getting hitched”, etc. It wasn’t until we started farming that we began to viscerally understand the roots of these sayings. (Hint: A lamb shakes its tail really fast when it's nursing.)
And it wasn’t until we started farming that we began to understand — like really understand — the significance of giving thanks in the Fall.
The Fall is an incredible time of year in the temperate world. It is a season of unimaginable bounty. The plants of forest and field have spent all Spring and Summer harnessing the sun’s energy into fruits and seeds and roots and leaves and we have harvested. In the Fall the root cellar is full, the larder is full, the granary is full; the land has burst forth at its seams and we gathered the overflow.
The farmer, sitting at home with her feet up next to the fire, is keenly aware of the bounty in the root cellar below. She feels a giddy contentment in this — but no pride. She realizes how little she did to create it all. Sure, she worked hard all summer — moving things here and there — but it was others, present now and before, and life itself, that filled that cellar. It was others who laid the roof over her head and dug the cellar. Others who forged her tools and taught her how to use them. Others who saved the seeds and taught others, who taught others, who taught others, who taught her how to care for them. And what, or who, made those seeds sprout? Not she.
For all this, there is nothing to give but thanks.
We’d like to take a moment to give thanks those who made this year's harvest possible.
To our landmates and neighbors here at Green Valley Farm + Mill: Temra, Jeremy, Teo and Quin Fisher, Aubrie Maze, Scott Kelley, Jeff Mendelsohn, Josiah Raison Cain, Genevieve Abedon, Michael Crivello, Lindsay Dailey, Cliff Paulin and Ateus, and everyone at Weaving Earth: Your work, attention, perseverance, appreciation and support for the farm, harvest help, simple daily interactions are an invaluable web of support and meaning that sustain us day-by-day.
To our friends and families: Your unconditional love and support as we go AWOL to tend this farm toddler in the growing season means the world to us. Let's hang out again.
To our farming mentors and the farming community in Sonoma County (too numerous to name here); to Andy and Julia Henderson at Confluence Farm down the road; you make the long-days shorter in solidarity, camaraderie, and much practical wisdom.
To all the volunteers who showed up this year, you’re many hands made light work when we needed it the most.
To Ingrid the Egret: Your capacity to devour gophers is truly astonishing and incredibly expedient. Thank you for being such a good listener.
To Anna Dozor and Kate Beilharz. No words. OK, some words: At the beginning of the year Kayta and I were trepidatious about embarking into the new frontier of managing people on our own farm. You have spoiled us. We couldn't have asked for kinder, harder working, lovelier people to spend our days with. This season would not have been possible, or nearly as fun, without you. Thank you. Here is to many Harry Potter marathons.
And finally, to you, our members. Whatever bounty we’ve enjoyed this year is because of you. Your trust and support paid for the seeds, the compost, the irrigation tape, the tomato trellising twine. You harvested our potatoes, our corn, our squash. You took a risk on a pair of young farmers and a farm and showed up every week with words of encouragement, cookies, kim-chi, and cute little doodles to put on the chalk board. You pickled cucumbers for us when we didn’t have time to pickle them ourselves.
You reminded us day after day, week after week, that real, life-sustaining bounty comes from people working together to accomplish something bigger than just themselves — from a community.