The Whole Story
While at the Farmer’s Market early on Saturday morning, I stopped to chat with Joel K. from Lonely Oak Farm. Lonely Oak hosts a variety of on-farm events each season, including Sunday brunches and evening dinners. He asked when we were going to host an event for the public, and I told him that we’re just not there yet. Our farm is still a bit of a pigsty; we don’t have decent infrastructure for parking and table setup, and we just don’t feel we’re established enough to host at this point. However, I told him, we’re having a party for CSA members on Sunday. “Well you should plan something for the public.” he replied, “I’d like to see it.”
“Besides,” he continued, “The before-after aspect of it is the most interesting. That way, people can see the progression and transformation of the space over time, and get the whole story.”
Hmm, I thought, the whole story… After mulling it over for a while, I think he’s right. If we all manicure our farm spaces artificially for public events, what kind of misconceptions are we putting forth about the reality of organic farming? Do we not have faith that the supporting public can handle the truth about our agricultural spaces? When will we be ready? Maybe, I thought, we just need to display ourselves as we are, and say “This is our farm; you are welcome to come enjoy it if you wish.”
For all that, though, we’re in the middle of fifty construction projects; our common area was an absolute pigsty, and CSA Party-Day loomed near, so I cut the conversation short, headed to the kitchen for my customary Saturday pickling, then to Rising Sand to meet Oren for the project of the day: lowering the massive walk-in cooler from its long-standing perch to its final resting place.
“Want a pickle?” I asked the Grandmaster immediately, betraying my shameless effervescence for my fermented cukes – fresh out of the bucket after their 3-week soak. He respectfully declined, but I figured a little gut microbe action couldn’t hurt, and munched my 5th pickle of the day as we circled the massive beast, scratching our heads and stroking our beards. Finding no better ideas, we embarked on the 5-hour process of jacking and lowering the mammoth onto progressively shorter structures, all the way down to the ground where we… would figure something out when the time came.
And we did. We had reached the last frontier: one side of the cooler resting on the ground; the other held only by the small face of one last jack, which Oren slowly and carefully lowered. On the cusp of his final levering descent, Frita – the greyest and dumbest kitten — darted under the cooler, ran to the farthest back corner, and hunched down beneath the teetering beast, playing calmly with a leaf as we freaked out. She ignored our desperate calls for what seemed like minutes, opting instead for blissful playtime beneath her tottering tombstone. Finally, we coerced her out, locked her in the shed, and I kicked the jack out, enjoying the satisfying thud of newly placed cooler hitting new concrete pad. We celebrated, then shared a heavy sigh of relief.
“Dude, Monica would have… we would have had to get a new kitten that looked…”
“We would have had to get a new Monica.” Oren corrected me.
With that, we called it a night.
Sunday morning, bright and early, we got started on the Rising Sand Face-Lift. Moving, washing, mowing; tucking randoms back in isolated corners of sheds; compiling spare garbage in a large plastic bin; setting up tables and tents. Slowly but surely, we whipped her into at least passable party shape. Minutes before guest arrival, we gathered around a few dad sandwiches as Polly ran us through the logistics. Corrina/Monica at the welcome table; Monica working the photo booth; Lee parking attendant; Oren/Danny farm tours; Fanni basil harvest. With that, a slow trickle of vehicles started rolling in, a keg got tapped and some cider bottles opened, and we had ourselves a party.
Farm tours turned to hay rides; bluetooth speaker turned to live music; and potluck turned to epic feast. The meal got underway, and families with small children harvested and cleaned basil while my brother Loren fired up his guitars and amplifiers, alternating between acoustic folk songs and psychedelic electric guitar loops. Finally, I relaxed — laying back on a blanket in the grass next to my best friend Randy, and letting the music wash over me. By this point, Loren had looped together an intricate and bittersweet soundscape – the volume of each track increasing progressively; reaching the pinnacle of electronic intensity as his final, screaming solo tore itself from the upper echelons of his fret board. With a click of a foot pedal, he cast us into silence, returning to earth and becoming aware for the first time of all of the eyes on him. “Sorry about that; I got a little carried away. I guess I’ll take a break…” He unplugged his guitar, and a mild breeze whispered through the silence left in its wake. It was fucking epic. Slowly, the party regained its composure and carried on, post-meal and post-music.
As the day progressed, I realized that these are the people who we are feeding every week — the people who make up our community — and they really do seem to understand and really appreciate the work that we do. Numerous people told me how much they appreciated us inviting them to the farm, acknowledging how much work it must have been. And yes, it was. But for the most part, I think we pulled it together. The eating area looked at least respectable; the farm was relatively clean and organized, and there was food and drinks for all. The folks of our community got most of the whole story.
And maybe they don’t need to know about us washing the dishes in a 5-gallon bucket with a spray hose before the feast. Maybe they don’t need to know about the disgusting state of our three-compartment sink prior to Logan’s scrub-job that morning. Maybe they don’t need to know how close Oren was to plummeting the tiny tractor into the heavy boat during the loaded hayride. Maybe they don’t need to know about Loren approaching me after his brief soundcheck – forehead full of sweat and moustache of sudsy beer – saying, “Jeez Lou; I don’t know if I can pull this off man… I turned 30 yesterday, you know…” Maybe they don’t need to know about our near-kitten disaster. Then again, maybe they do.
See photo page for party pics.