Farm to Home
Essentially, autumn is the quiet completion of spring and summer. Spring was all eagerness and beginnings, summer was growth and flowering. Autumn is the achievement summarized, the harvested grain, the ripened apple, the grape in the wine press. Autumn is the bright leaf in the woodland, the opened husk on the bittersweet berry, the froth of asters at the roadside…See it, smell it, taste it, and forget the time of day or year. Autumn needs no clock or calendar. –Hal Borland (1979)
The quelling of summer heat and the emergence of brightly grounded pigments also releases a new crop. Stable roots and bulbs mature. My CSA continues to harvest a bounty. How beautiful all-that-is-produce: the faint hairs at the tip of a carrot, the almost bursting buds on a crown of broccoli, the cellular like dots on the skin of a red potato, and the tie dye of greens and oranges on the hard surface of an acorn squash.
We must feast with our eyes as much as our taste buds.
Meals tell a story. The origin of our food is a deeply meaningful and, often way too complicated, inquiry.
Vermont was made for farming, yet the number of Vermont farms fell from 24,000 to 6,000 between 1980 and 1995, and to 2,000 in 1997 (Klyza & Trombulak, 1999, p. 127). Despite the publicity of new small organic vegetable farms or specialized-product farms (goat cheese, grass fed cattle, free range chickens, etc.) the number of farms in 2011 is under 1,000. Perhaps there are numerous people sitting at desk jobs, with the itch to grow things- they probably were meant to be farmers. I challenge those who never contemplate how hard it is to grow food, forget about the labor in the kitchen, try planting the seed, pulling the weeds, and harvesting the crop.
When I was a child, farming auctions were an exciting afternoon entertainment that soon became a sign of worry and distress. I fear that the “iconic” images of Vermont, which Strickland (1986) describes below, have become those of an often-romanticized Vermont, (and yet I do readily use these images within my marketed artwork):
…the state evokes Currier and Ives images of covered bridges; steepled nineteenth-century towns; radiant autumn colors; dazzling winter landscapes; serpentine country roads; and soothing, pastoral calm…Vermonters themselves- the direct democracy of Town Meeting; the independent mindedness of the Green Mountain Boys; the laconic canniness of the legendary farmer, who generation after generation directs lost flatlanders into back road oblivion (p. 1).
In reality, I am confronted with images of real estate signs and with empty structures.
So we must celebrate the harvest. Look up to the autumn moons. Prepare with love. Eat locally and drink that extra glass of red wine or dark ale.
Quinoa with local caramelized onions and shredded carrots, atop local red cabbage and roasted butternut squash, topped with a crumble of local goat cheese.
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