News from the Farm | September 29, 2014

 We are Tidy!!

We are tidying this week in preparation for our big day here on the farm. Yesterday we had a crew of 40 volunteers cleaning up, stuffing scarecrows with new wheat straw, designing and building a 500-bale straw fort, erecting the tipi, painting signs, making tamales, and spreading 25 tons of mulch to settle dust and make the farmyard neat and beautiful. This week, along with our regular pick, pack, weeding and planting schedule – we are ready-ing and steady-ing for Hoes Down.

After a long and dry summer, where days were pretty intense and a layer of dust had settled over and in about everything, a half inch of rain this past week washed and polished what was looking pretty drab. One can just see the trees and grass exhale a collective sigh of relief as the cleansing moisture wiped our world clean. It was a baptism, a purification and a regeneration. We welcomed and celebrated the transition as one of the marks of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall.

I know that you all might be inundated with Hoes Down rallying calls from our end, so bear with me, because each farm member has a different take on what the day means and why it is important for our farm and rural community.  At the inception more than 25 years ago, Dru and her friends Annie Main and Caroline Scott made dried flower wreaths and then needed a way to sell them.  Since then, Hoes Down was an end of the summer celebration to bring you to the farm to dance and shout with us, building a bridge between urban and rural by getting you to come up here and put your feet on the farm and get a feel for our world.

Dru was the heart of the event for many years as it became an essential fundraiser for the community, providing much needed funds for groups as diverse as The Ecological Farming Association, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, 4-H, the local library, and the land trust – nonprofits that did the good work of making this rural area healthy and diverse. Over the 26 years of the event, it has generated more than $1,000,000 in funds that have helped to fund the ongoing work of these groups.













From my point of view, the day is an opportunity to share this beautiful spot – our farm – with you. We do farm tours, workshops, hands-on demonstrations of everything from compost making to tree pruning. Our cow is milked, sheep shorn and the wool combed carded and spun – examples of timeless relationships with nature’s generosity that – universally – rural people live each day. Wendell Berry said recently “Farmers, whether they know or acknowledge it, are directly dependent on nature. Farmers who have livestock are more likely to understand this than are farmers who are merely raising crops. But farming, good or bad, can only take place in nature. Farmers who are aware of this pay attention to the natural circumstances and so learn about it.”

If you come to our farm to celebrate with us, you might catch a glimmer of our day-to-day. The farm tours are designed as opportunities to ask questions and relate the new insights that we are chasing as we try to practice our farming with a wider view of our deep commitment to the stewardship of this place. Your footsteps or dance vibrations resonate through the earth and tickle the very souls of the earthworms and critters that are underfoot. The children who brave the tunnels of the hay fort or hang on to the handle of the flying fox are doing it by their own willpower- within the supportive tribal embrace of others who are doing the same. 

Hoes Down is a day for children to adventure; it is a day for adults to dance and enjoy; it is a day of great food, meeting farmers, and dancing with our farmworkers. It is a day for all of us to give thanks and revel in another summer’s accomplishments. It is celebration that will mark the cultural shift to a healthier more connected food system. I see people eating local and organic for many reasons, one being simply that we celebrate our seasons, and another that we dance harder or sleep under the stars, or walk, even for a short day, the fields that grow our food.

We invite you to put your work-hoe down, take a day, and celebrate with us – it enriches us and all of the creatures of this place. Hoping to see you Saturday, October 4th

–Paul Muller