No Feast Without Farmers - Buy Local
Late August and the locusts still cry out as the afternoon sun drifts into dusk. The muggy air clings to me, stagnant and oppressive, but as I walk out barefoot onto my first cultivated field of the fall season, I feel a coolness in the earth press into the pad of my foot, between my toes, reminiscent of the first fall breezes soon to arrive. I’ll kneel before the rows and press my hands to the ground in reverence of those forces larger than me, beyond me, which will govern this next growing season.
It is a small ritual, a simple demonstration of my relinquishing control and accepting this new season as my next curriculum, once again. Each season I return to my fields a bit more practiced, more developed in my farming techniques and yet this experience does not diminish the very real possibility of catastrophe. For, in spite of our best efforts and intents, at the end of the day we humans can only control and manipulate our environment so much. Therefore, it behooves us to learn to respect and embrace the magnitude of Mother Nature ... her manner, her strength and her ferocity.
With such awareness comes deeper understanding and thus a much better ability to prepare oneself for the season ahead. Not only a physical preparation with soil cultivation and compost turning, but a mental preparation as well. The preparation of the weight of deep sorrow in losing crops to an unexpected plight and the ability to persevere and rise again.
Ours is a resilient community of determined farmers, thank goodness. From 25 inches of rain within 24 hours to managing triple-digit temperatures for weeks on end: It’s enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel, or feel themselves tremendously incompetent. But where would we be if our farmers did exactly that at every hardship they faced? We’d be sitting at a very quiet table looking down at very shiny, empty plates this Thanksgiving.
We are fortunate along the Gulf Coast region that we benefit from the bounties of year-round harvest. Perhaps not year-round tomato or lettuce harvest, but if we pause a moment to consider the season and what she offers, there is abundance: abundance of healthy soil; abundance of heart and spirit; abundance of nourishment from mindfulness of how your vegetables were cultivated and prepared.
Yes, even that bundle of mustards slightly picked through by caterpillars. And yes, even the lumpy squash with a slight brown patch on one side. Ugly vegetables are still nourishing vegetables and a testament to the triumph of resiliency in our farming communities. The determination to grow better each year.
Without farmers, there is no feast and our resilience comes from our practices but also our community. It is your belief in our work and your support that gets us through all the ups and downs. So this Thanksgiving season, I want to encourage you to appreciate the abundance in our nourishing local produce, ugly veggies and all, and give thanks for these harvests by supporting your local farm community.