Monday, March 21, 2011


...and Building the Greenhouse Part II..........
Human beings are not static.

The same schmoozy spouse that whispers sweet nothings in your ear one moment is also the enfant terrible brandishing a saucepan at you for forgetting to take your shoes off in the house the next…
Suffering seems to be the inheritance of the human race…and suffering each other’s ups and downs the special inheritance of the family.
It is often hard to find any unity within one’s family…in this age of divorce this hardship is often “solved” by simply leaving…blood relation seems insufficient for any lasting communion with our fellow house-dwellers- and family ties are too often no guarantee of mutual love and respect.
More and more I find myself coming to the same conclusion, the same solution for all our troubles…the same source for healing, restoring, maintaining, and inspiring families.


The land offers families so much more than their daily necessities. It offers them a place to be free to fulfill their own unique identities, and pursue each other’s good.

There can be little doubt that a place with haylofts, livestock, open fields, mysterious woods, vegetable gardens, berry patches, dirt, and more dirt can be a place of enchantment and health for children…but one of the most important things that a farm offers children is work.

We are not talking here about the kind of work that drags a man’s soul to the ground, endless drudgery that is the source of all his guilt and pride…we are talking about the kind of work that gives a child the very real impression that he is important and needed in the family, that without him or her some good thing wouldn’t exist on the homestead, in the town…in the world. There should be chicken manure on his boots, and the stuff of symphonies in his soul. Work that gives a child the satisfaction that comes with making his imprint on the world around him…so that instead of throwing fits and sulking in corners he is busy building fences, feeding animals, collecting eggs, and watering plants.

The land offers a canvas to husbands and wives on which they may paint their unity…
The fruit of the husband’s labor in the field is baked into bread by the wife in the kitchen...the collective labors of the garden yield romantic candle-lit feasts in the backyard…no work on the land is done in isolation…and the work itself binds hearts in its common purpose. It is difficult to argue long with a spouse…when you need them to help you transplant hundreds of flats, carry one side of a long plank, care for one of the newborn twin goats…

When children have grown, parents can no longer tack their childish drawings to the refrigerator to show their proud admiration. But when grown, those children have as great a need for the support and steadfastness of their parents as they did while young and oblivious to that need…the projects have grown too big for the kitchen, but when work is shared between grown children and their parents the firm foundation is being laid for a lifetime of deep contentment. Words of advice are not sufficient for such peace between family members…but a slow and steady habit of repeated shared endeavor heals all the wounds of raging adolescence and family feuds…Blood alone cannot bind families…shared cultivation of the earth does.
Here’s where CSA comes in.
Community Supported Agriculture allows those who do not live on the farm to share in the cultivation of the earth. The responsibility to maintain proper stewardship of the land rests on all of us since, as Fr. Vincent McNabb writes:
“Here on the land, and on the land alone is all to be found. Everything that crowds the city shops, and makes town-life possible, must have been one day taken from the open hand of the earth.” -Land-work and Hand-work

But more than that, the rewards of such close proximity to the tending of the earth, and the habits of mind that flow from such cultivation can be shared by an extended “family” which supports and sustains the farm in the ways that they are able, with the unique abilities that each member has.

"It is clearer, I believe, that the survival of farming in this region as in many others, cannot be secured by “competing on the global market.” To survive, our farmers are going to need a fully developed local land-based economy supported by informed and locally-commited urban consumers. To acheive this will require a long time and a lot of work, but we have begun”

-Wendell Berry
The authentic expression of a just and peaceful society is the union between capital and labor.

In Community Supported Agriculture there is a happy union of capital and labor…the members are comprised of those who are able to supply the membership price necessary to sustain the farm, and the labor is provided by the farmer, and his family (and other eager and inspired member volunteers!)…resulting in not only shared food for all, but many important consequences for the community at large, the increasing of soil fertility, the care for natural watersheds, the responsible cultivation of habitats for native plants, birds, insects, and mammals.

Most importantly, there is the mutual conservation of what it means to be home. Home is a place for shared endeavor, a source of health, nurturing, feasting, and safety. The farm is incubator for this definition of the word…the farmer is of necessity as rooted to his spot as his fields are…and the surrounding community is pulled into this rootedness when it invests in his endeavors, and supports a generational business that is run out the desire for the wholeness of earth, town, and family, and not for the accumulation of wealth which would spur him on to regional, national, and global markets. The smallness of the farm is a beacon to the community at large that he is committed to the happiness of his own family, and the freshness of the vegetables, eggs, meats, and cheeses he sells. It is a smallness that makes for grandness of spirit, sustains small towns and big ones, and is the hallmark of Communty Supported Agirculture. It is this smallness and rootedness that gives one hope for a common experience of what it means to be a family, and to be home.


  1. Great post....but I sure hope your dh isn't the one flinging saucepans at you.


  2. I'm the brandisher! It is part of the persona and privilage of a diva soprano/farmer to be familiar with the weilding and brandishing of pots and pans (at times.)