Knowing how to sustain life from land in a procession together over time
Each of us is processing across a landscape. Over time, a child may come to our side in the procession. We age. The child ages. If we’re lucky and we live well, a grandchild eventually may join the procession, too. For our lifetime, each of us forms a bridge to parents and possibly grandparents in this endless procession. Wendell Berry in his book “Life is a Miracle” writes about the importance of this bridge to the transfer of essential knowledge. When the procession stops, Berry notes, knowledge stops. Vital information about the landscape is in the procession. We learn it, experience it, share it. It challenges us to answer great questions. How is this space sustained for all generations? How is it served and protected for all generations? What is our legacy for children who will inherit it? It isn’t likely that data banks will ever track such knowledge about specific localities. It is even less likely that many individuals would take the time to tap it electronically, if it were. Hence the importance of each of us as a bridge of vital knowledge. Fewer and fewer people in our nation and world are rooted to a certain landscape. A trend now for several centuries has limited more and more the degree to which a landscape supports an individual in a procession. I’ve noted before in newsletters that our nation of 90 percent farmers at its founding can count only 2 in 100 as farmers today. Everyone else is periodically moving around. Some never even invest in the local landscape and rarely work to learn from it or endeavor to answer the most important questions. Food security summits Dela and I used to attend noted there is less than 5 days’ food supply in most U.S. cities. As fossil fuels become scarce, the importance of intimate relationships between those who farm local landscapes and those who eat from distant landscapes becomes ever more clear. This week, as I crawled across some of the landscape we rent to grow food for 190 households, I thought about these relationships. I was struck by the kindness and sympathy many of you showed in messages and even letters of sincere sympathy for my family at my mother’s passing. I was struck by time taken from busy schedules for simple acts to help us – a little weeding, a little harvesting, placement of metal hoops for plastic coverings against frost, dismantling of spent beds for winter. I cannot recall in my lifetime a more beautiful September. So many warm, dry, breezy, sunny days. It is hard to think about my role – our role in the procession – or to learn much from the landscape when I have to work in a cold rain, or sleet, or following frost. Many autumns of my life, I worked through much of fall, trying not to think about how uncomfortable I was in falling temperatures and rain. There has usually been a lingering fear and dread, too, of first frost. Frost kills gardens and fields. It blackens and shrivels so many types of plants we tend for months. It’s incredible to have made it completely through September without frost. Thanks to structures we’ve built and developed over the years, we’re increasingly able to cover enough plants to more than finish out 20-week season. Our “fall share” has become both popular and beneficial to our farm. It consists of 20 or more items (cool season greens, root crops, canned or preserved goods, etc.), delivered in each of two weeks, the first week in November and during the week before Thanksgiving. We’ve planned, planted and preserved enough food for November to feed about 70 households. A good number of people sign up for this fall share nearly a year ahead of time. We still have space for about 30 more “fall share” sign-ups. You can find a sign-up form at www.scotchhillfarm.com or call or email us for a copy. In the Madison area, some insurance providers offer cash rebates for this “fall share,” too. Still time to enjoy a fall experience of the landscape that grows your food. Volunteers are welcome anytime.
This Week’s Vegetables include:
- Assorted tomatoes
- Sweet Peppers (also yellow, orange or green and hot)
- Red Norland Potatoes
- Garden Extra – every site gets something different (zucchini, OR eggplant, OR small melon, OR broccoli)
- Bok Choi
Cooking Tips for the Week
Adapted from Dela’s recipe for Potato Kale Soup
Avoid over-cooking kale or Brussels Sprouts. They lose their sweet flavor (often derived from frost and cold as fall trends into winter). Try Dela’s Potato Kale Soup recipe. Saute one chopped onion or leek in two TBSp butter with a chopped garlic clove and 2 TBSP chopped celery or bok choi until just cooked and soft. Add 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock and two large potatoes cubed. Cook potatoes in stock until soft, then puree. Remove stems from a bunch of kale, chop and add to the soup 5 minutes before serving. Do not over-cook the kale or it will taste too strong. Salt and pepper to taste. Cooked sausage, ham or Scotch Hill Farm bratts are a nice addition for a heartier winter soup. Also, hot peppers can be added if you like a spicy soup. Kale is one of nature’s best medicines. It’s very good for you!