Dear Friends of the Farm ~
May you all be wintering well. In the words of author Katherine May on the art of wintering…
Plants and animals don’t’ fight the winter, they don’t pretend it’s not happening, and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not death of the life cycle, but its crucible. (from Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times)
The farmer’s winter is enacted in the imagination – the crucible holds seed catalogs, apprentice curriculum, greenhouse seed sowing schedules, and internet searches for equipment upgrades. Much time is spent putting together our season’s crew, conjuring five apprentices, two interns and a farm manager who will become the team that ends up feeding hundreds of households. The new cohort forms an ever unique residential community, living, working, playing, enjoying, learning, getting on each other’s nerves, and growing together. To devote your energies day after day to the acts of farming changes you. Everyone who comes here has decided against a more comfortable existence. You are not the same person in November that began in May. Having been sprung from the controlled interior environments within which we modern people spend 80-90% of our time, the new farmers know something intimate about the alive earth and the flora and fauna that inhabit the landscape. Through days that are both incredibly satisfying and hard, one realizes one’s potential and place in the world.
We look forward to 2023 ready for its inevitable blend of delights and sorrows. We want to honor our most excellent retiring field manager of 13 years, Lisa Roschek, who will be training her replacement and instead shift to managing the farmer’s markets this year. So you will still see her in Eugene. To simplify cropping this year, we will forgo offering CSA shares, but instead activate the online store for those who wish to pick up orders at the farm. We are actively looking for a new manager along with our apprentice crew these two months – so please forward this opportunity to your social networks.
As I think of what draws many of us to return season after season, I resonate with the descriptor “the divine drug” that beloved champion of the art Wendell Berry speaks of. If you have a season under your belt, you know that impossible, impractical, unlucrative seduction that nevertheless shows up in the morning pulling you towards the tide of the quickening earth in spring.
I close with the poem that speaks to the impractical pull, Wendell Berry’s “The Man Born to Farming.” (1970)
The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
that the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
descending in the dark?
[Gender pronoun given a pass. Feel free to read aloud with “she” or “they” or “Zi,” says the she-farmer]
If our winter imagination proves fertile, it will send up tender shoots this spring and we will see you at the farmer’s markets in Eugene in April. If you’d like to keep in touch with farm happenings, what’s coming to market, sales, recipes, farms stories and then some, sign up on our web site for our weekly season newsletter.
As always, we thank you for your ongoing support, kind wishes and companionable commiseration. Most importantly, your palate for exquisite local produce.
Debra Seido & Bill