December is dark. Darker than any other month of the year. Before we started farming, I would trudge reluctantly into 4 o’clock sunsets feeling burdened by entirely too many layers of clothes. But now, after a year of farming, I’m rested as I’ve been all year and couldn’t imagine a better coda to the season. This annual gift of winter blesses both farmer and earth with rest. Farmer Eliot Coleman calls these the “Persephone months” during which fewer than 10 hours of light reach the ground each day. Vegetative life slows to a crawl. And when I’m mindful I let my busy brain slow a little bit too.
With the spaciousness and rest of winter, Dina and I have been taking stock of all that our first season has taught us as well as where we go from here. We’re still wrestling with several new ideas, but the community around which we built this experiment will undoubtedly remain the focus of what comes next.
Back in October, before we stacked the harvest bins for good, we threw a little harvest party for our members. The evening was brisk. We strung up lights, festooned the yard with pumpkins and cornstalks, prepared gallons of mulled cider, and recruited a band. CSA Members arrived with piping hot dishes in hand. Wine flowed, paper cups ‘clinked,’ and the sounds of celebration floated out into the neighborhood.
In lieu of a blessing, we offered up a story told to us by Dina’s grandmother, Jane. “Companion,” we recounted, “comes from the Old French word ‘compaignon’, which literally means ‘one who breaks bread with another.’ As we spoke, faces of new friends lit up the dark. Before this summer, we only new each other in passing – walking a dog, checking mail, raking the leaves – but around this table we stopped. And each week this summer, we had gathered, making time for hugs and banter. And now we were cooking for one another.
We told them how special it felt to walk through our neighborhood and name the friends who live behind each door. We told them we were honored to be growing food for our little community. But in the heat of the moment, we didn’t give adequate thanks to our members for their part in this venture. Were it not for the volunteers pitching in at the farm each week, the weekly notes and gifts that would appear on our front porch, their trust in us as farmers and willingness to support the value of good food – we would never have made it through this year.
Everyone deserves mention, but we especially want to single out David, Pat, Callie, Alysa, Lori, Juan, Blythe, Elizabeth, Penny, Christine and Steve, Anne, Brian, Lisa and Carol for their contributions. Thank you for bringing your willing spirit and helping hands when we needed them most.
And thank you everyone for being our companions.