News from the Farm | September 15, 2014

Shifting Seasons

The farm is shifting and easing into the start of a fall season. As days shorten, so do our work hours – now starting at 7 am and finishing by 5. The crops that we cultivate and seeds planted reflect the fall and winter approach. Andrew and Jan are planting fall greens, carrots, beets and broccoli. Potatoes are emerging and we hurry them along to size up and set tubers before any frost determines their lifespan. Gone for 2014 are melons and stone fruits. Tomatoes are beginning to show their decline as they head toward the end of a long and fruitful season.

Thoreau wrote “Love each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each.” Indeed, the conversation about seasonality is a deep and significant historical awareness that we may be remembering, in turn enriching and connecting all of us to the ‘food shed’ that supplies our communities. We may be moving to the shared responsibility that is central to a vibrant and healthy food system – where those who eat are responsible for those who produce, and those who produce know their farm patrons, acting as stewards of the resources that support those patrons. 

The ‘farm to fork’ events taking place around the nation acknowledge the unique character of regional farms, the products that they grow and the seasons of that production. These events are celebratory in nature – touching food, the art of its presentation and production, or the complexity of good winemaking – and the humanity of sharing civil conversation around more joyous and participatory food system. In turn, farmers are re-thinking the possibilities of stretching their crop mix diversify production – with real benefits. For example, providing diversified cash flow or longer- term employment of their workers, leading to stable lives for those who work our fields and pick our crops.

For farmers, farm workers, and rural communities, this support makes a significant new investment in the long chain of interdependent pieces that help to create greater prosperity for rural peoples. The conversation deepens – becoming clear that having healthy and nutritious food depends upon supporting farms who have healthy soil management practices, feeding the soil food web in turn feeding the myriad of interdependent life forms in soil that make a healthy plant. The foods you choose to purchase may be related to the bird life, or insect ecology or plant diversity supported and residing around farm fields. John Muir said that to touch one piece is to begin knowing the universe of interdependent and linked relationships surrounding that piece.

The heart of a sustainable food system relies upon new investments and collaborations to re–generate opportunities for new entrepreneurs in production agriculture. It will call for new thinking about what is returned to our soil systems – as we harvest the abundance of a season – regenerating the capacity of that soil to continue making new crops. It may call for new thinking about new ways to hold land for beginning farmers to get a start and address the issues of access to land. It may require a broader set of rewards and support for farmers who sequester more carbon in their soils or who create biological diversity in their farm design supporting more levels of life on their farm.

It will require our land grant universities to re-invest in fundamental low cost systems allowing farms to harvest more of what is indigenous to each farm – powered by sunlight and water cycles; or the potentials of plants to fix nitrogen and accumulate carbon; or the benefit of building soils that are rich in organic matter that make a limited water resources go further; or considering the biological life of vibrant soil; or understanding the power of fairly compensated farm laborers.

As our seasons change we appreciate your support and commitment to our farm. We look to be transparent in our farm practices – growing our crops in a responsible manner, while affecting the renewal of our rural community – long chains of relationships – making the foods we grow part of a universe of connections. It is a breathtaking beauty that requires pause and a turn of awareness as we celebrate and enjoy the blessings of abundance and changing seasons.

Please join us on the first weekend in October for the ultimate celebration of the shifting seasons – the 27th Annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. We would be thrilled to have you here. For more information, visit

Thank you so much for supporting our farm.

— Paul Muller