Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

Having your Cake & Eating it Too

by Bekah Gorman

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Some years ago, I was sitting in the burger night field with Corie having a monthly check in. We sat in the sun for an hour or so discussing the ins and outs of my next year at the farm; my responsibilities, projects, focuses, etc.  I remember Corie finishing up sharing with me her thoughts about my role and then me nervously whispering and slurring as I tried to get out as fast as possible: “cool so I was also wondering how you felt about mehikingthePacificCrestTrailin2017andthencomingbacktoworkhere….” (silence, breathing, silence, breathing). I've gotten better with timing when it comes to sharing my thoughts, but this was definitely one of my less fine moments. Corie, you were so calm and gracefully just replied, “I need to think about this.”

Well, she thunk...and I'm incredibly fortunate. Corie proposed that if I could wait until 2018, she could make it work for me to return to the farm upon completing the trail.

Commence Bekah's looks of shock and blinking foggily into the headlights. WHAT!? REALLY? OF COURSE I CAN WAIT! I mean come ON! Where in the WORLD can you find a place where your boss makes room for you to leave for 6 months AND RETURN!?!?!?

So, here we are. 2018 and one week away from departure.

The PCT, short for The Pacific Crest Trail, is a 2,658 mile hiking trail that runs from the border of California and Mexico up to the border of Washington and Canada. It's been a dream of ours to hike it...walking at a steady pace allowing us to truly know the land throughout its varying landscapes ranging from the Mojave Desert to the High Sierras, encountering other hikers, meeting “trail angels” (people who make it their mission to carry and leave water or food on the trail, sometimes offering a ride/lodging on the trail for the hikers), encountering challenging weather and unforeseen circumstances, all the while working to shed the opinions, judgments, expectations, and barriers we've naturally created for ourselves over the past decade.

If you were wondering who the other end of the “us” is, I'm going with my best friend and life partner Eric. Together we've been planning and prepping everything from weighing out our backpacks by the ounce, researching the safest ways to maneuver around rattlesnakes, double checking that Grizzly bears do NOT in fact live along the PCT, studying up on the trail towns and food options along the route, dehydrating beef from the farm!!, making homemade energy bars, the list could go on. I have deep gratitude for Eric's logistics planning and I've been deeply humbled by the degree of interest and support people have been taking in our journey.

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Now, as we slide into the final chapter before heading off, tying up loose ends, finishing projects that have been lingering, I find myself filled with what I call “EEEEing” moments. Eeeeing is when you are so excited/happy/grateful/overwhelmed that all that makes sense to do is “eeeee!” inside (it's a thing that kinda runs in my family).

As I finish CSA spreadsheets and look through all the names of the families and individuals I've had the privilege to meet over the past years. I eee as I get to have some really sacred and special time with farm team members, friends, and family. Eeeing happens when I spend the day with my Village School Family, my love growing for them with each session. It happens when I get to walk another time along my commute to and from the farm. It happens when I see Sprouts kiddos relishing in Mike's amazing baked goods, when I see the insects awakening after the winter slumber...in sum, it's happening with a  rapidly increasing degree of regularity about EVERYTHING I'm witnessing and experiencing lately, at the farm and in Vermont in general.

It seems that when we have these marked moments in our lives such as a trip, the seasons, a birth, or a death, that our hearts begin to look back, to become nostalgic, to want to hold onto everything in this new eyes-wide-open kind of way. It's this new appreciation for the EVERY DAY... not only for the grandiose moments. In fact, I would now argue that it is IN the every day that we can find the most to feel grateful for, for it is these things that create the slowly maturing and rich stories and memories and it is these things that are making me feel abundantly grateful.

Isn't it ironic that when we are phasing out of something we find such gratitude and appreciation for it? It's like, in the act of letting go, we allow the doors, emotions, reflections, love, challenges, abundance to FLOW. And in doing so, we truly find a presentness that only exists because of this departure. Side Note: I AM COMING BACK!  (y'all are stuck with me :)

Looking back now on these past 5 years I begin to SEE the story and the thread of my role at Bread & Butter Farm. But I can see it now more clearly because I'm looking at it through a new lens; a lens of leaving for a time. I don't mean to say that we all need to leave that which we love in order to find what we're grateful for. I only mean to share with you the abundance I am feeling right now; the reflective gratitude that makes all the normal small and petty annoyances of the every day “piff” away into smitharines and be replaced with a newfound appreciation and endearment.  

Although it sounds kind of dramatic to say this, it feels true to say to you that the farm has really raised me. Perhaps I can be more accurate if I say, has really raised me as an adult thus far. I feel like we all need places to be eternal students. All so often we leave our parents' homes and then begin our own homes and lives and families, losing the mentorship and the tracking of our human development which is such a strong part of childhood (think birthday parties, graduations, bar/bat mitzvahs, boy/girl scouts, height markings on the wall, etc).

But what if throughout our whole life, becoming adults and elders, we could receive this same degree of support and mentorship all along the way?

Well, this is precisely what the farm has felt like for me as I've moved through my pivotal 20's.  I've felt HELD as I've entered adulthood by this place. Corie and Chris have been my second parents and dearest mentors, Henry and Sammy, my little brother and sister, and add to it the slew of cooky, brilliant, cousins otherwise known as my fellow farming peers who constantly hold up a mirror for me to better see myself and grow….well, I always wanted a big family.

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Bread & Butter Farm has shaped who I am as an adult in so many ways. It has opened the doors for me to be able to craft and create absolutely any dream I can imagine and put the time into with loving and honest guidance being given to me all the way. It has given me the gift of community….and because of this, I feel I have the most solid foundation I could have ever dreamed of. While 5 years has felt like such a long time to be in one place, it simultaneously feels like a total BLIP in the scheme of things. 5 years has produced some of the most important relationships of my entire life and yet has been absolutely just the beginning, which is crazy. It's crazy to think about what could happen with an entire LIFETIME in this community, developing, growing, and changing together. I feel abundance. I feel emotion. I feel CONNECTION. I feel humbled.

From delivering bread twice a week to where I am today, jeez how did it even all happen? From my crooked rows in the greenhouse, seeding mishaps, and wondering how I could ever get fast enough, little did I know that those beginnings would set the stage for the most important place I've ever been lucky enough to call home.

I could fill pages and pages with gratitudes, memories, reflections, and musings of my time here. But because I only have your attention for so long, I'll wrap up and  hope the words I've put together can do a bit of justice to the way I feel about this place.

I hope that when I return I can keep getting to know MORE and MORE of you so that we can together keep weaving the network of land based love, physical and spiritual nutrition, mindfulness and inspiration, reflection, challenge, and growth. YOU are the people I want to grow old with.

Lastly, I want to say that while Eric and I are leaving in order to go embark on an adventure that we've always wanted to do for the sheer fun of it, in perhaps larger part (and what is really helping soothe me as we leave for leaving the farm for me is hard to do), we go with the recognition that we are leaving in order to challenge ourselves and re-open our eyes in order to return and better serve you all, our community. Leaving with you all in our minds and hearts makes it WAY more easy to drive away. Leaving knowing that we are going into a rite of passage in order to return and re-enter into the next chapter of service to you all makes it all make sense.  So thank you for coming with us, thank you for being with us, for holding us up. I am eternally full of overflowing love and gratitude for being on this path with you.

Corie, thank you for taking me in some years ago and for taking me back in once again….for letting me have my cake and eat it too.

It would be an honor if you followed us on this adventure at our public instagram page (you don't need an account to see our photos: sunnyrivervt)

I love and appreciate you with all my heart. See you in the fall!!

Bekah and Eric

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Piglets in March!?

PIGLETS!
in March!?

by Brandon Bless

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Piglets in March!?

Georgette and Freya, two of our three sows, had their piglets on March 26th!

(Gertie's isn't due until June 1st)

Did you know this is earlier than our pigs normally farrow?

We aim for our pigs to farrow in May. This gives them about 4 weeks in a nursery phase where piglets are cozy in their mama's den and nursing 12+ times a day! Mama can go out of the den to forage for short intervals as needed for some extra calories, nutrients, and plant medicines to keep herself healthy and sharing nutrient-dense milk with her babies. Meanwhile the piglets stay safe, warm, and hidden in their den.

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At about 4-5 weeks of age we can then start fence training the piglets to venture out with mama into our woodlands and hedgerows where they find tasty snacks to supplement their main diet of mama's milk. At about 6 weeks piglets learn the boundaries of electric fence and now the grandma-centric pig herd starts moving throughout our woodlands and fields rotating through dense pasture swards, protein-rich dogwood and shrubs, and windfalls of apples and nuts all while sun-bathing, shade-napping, and wallowing throughout the summer and fall.

Our mama sows naturally wean their piglets at around 3 months of nursing.  As the piglets increase their foraging and continue to grow we tune into individual characteristics of gilt (young female pigs who have yet to "farrow" or give birth) and boar piglets that help us identify the next generation of the pig herd as the new mamas and papas.  From physiological and behavioral characteristics, the piglets show us who among them are some of the happiest, healthiest, friendliest, hardiest, and most hormonally balanced of the bunch. They show us who likes to root more or graze more; who is dominate and who is passive; who likes belly rubs and back scratches; who takes after their mama or papa; who might have more bacons or more lard or more shoulder meat.  Essentially, we are looking for those piglets that are most evolved and adapted to their habitat including land, culture, community, and our farm economy.

Our new generation of gilts and boars stay together with their mama and grandma throughout the winter season in our woodchip bedded pack system.  While they have access to sunshine, snow, rain, and fresh air, the pigs are sheltered from the wind by a 2-sided shed and are freshly bedded with carbonaceous woodchips and straw a couple times a week.  The pigs love rooting and nesting in this system, and their action and manure help to make fungi-rich compost that later serves to enrich and deepen our soils. Throughout winter the pigs eat hay, wheat, oats, peas, corn, apples, vegetables, and are supplemented with minerals, kelp, and occasional dairy or other treats.  

At about 7 months of age, gilts are fertile and begin fully developed estrus. Because our pigs live in family herds, their heat cycles of 21 days are synced together to within 1-3 days of each other.  Pig gestation is so predictable at 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days, that we can work backwards from our target May farrowing date to determine which heat cycle the gilts and sows can be bred. This means that gilts will farrow at more or less exactly 1 year of age.

Let's see if we got all of that!

If our target farrowing date is the first week of May, and if pig gestation is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days, can you figure out the best 21-day breeding window so that our pigs farrow the first week of May?

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Spring Renewal and Our Farm Community

Spring Renewal and Our Farm Community

by Corie Pierce

Every spring is a time for new beginnings, renewal, birth.  Excitement fills the air and signs of spring are everywhere, including in our spirits. There is a fresh new bounce in all of our steps.  There is a feeling that “anything is possible!”, after a winter that we all felt, on some level, to have survived. Now the things that we had to work for each day get a bit easier!  (Think getting your family out the door just to go for a walk – snowpants, boots, mittens, scarf or no scarf, hat, layers….or…instead of hauling a 750lbs round bale of hay to the cows and trudging through snow and ice to do so, we just open a gate and let them into their new, lush pasture, with no worry of their waterer freezing over night!).  Suddenly, those first few days in spring that clear 50 degrees, everything feels EASY!  Throw on a sweater and you are on your way!

OK – yes, I know we just had one of our biggest snow storms last week, but, Spring is upon us, we know it.

I am always amazed by the pseudo-amnesia that comes with the feeling in spring that anything is possible. Funny, that we can’t quite remember just how hard the height of the growing season is -- the hours worked, the physical challenges, we just do it, and in March we seem thrilled at the possibility of taking it all on again!  So it goes, and especially for a farmer, it seems that with each season there are the joys and the parts of it that we love and crave, and there are the real challenges that we dive right in to, with naïve positivity and fortitude. 

It seems like in spring, or on the cusp of spring, I tend to reflect on this more and more with each passing year.  I think about why I do what I do, why I farm, why I feel so strongly about trying to make this business thrive.  The sense of birth, beginning again, and renewal is, perhaps, the time to think that way, to consider what we do and why.  And this year, more than ever, we are thinking about this as a team here at Bread & Butter Farm. 

Over the past three years our team went through big transitions – we had to reinvent ourselves and what we are doing on this beautiful 143 acres of land that we have been entrusted to steward.  It was about three years ago that we renewed the commitment of farming to simultaneously build community and to regenerate the land where we work – and do it in a collaborative way.   

In the most beautiful and organic way, a team has just emerged.  And, the core principles that guide this team has also emerged, like the tender shoots of grass in May that push out of the clay soil to start anew again. 

We have an incredible team.  We have a group of people here who all have found farming as a “career” not because it was part of their family tradition, but often in defiance of what others thought was a ‘good choice’.  This team has emerged to live this lifestyle and this mission, not because it is a practical or sensible career move, but because it’s really the only option. And luckily, it’s one that is truly the best option for them, for us, for our community.  Although our backgrounds vary greatly – how we were raised, what we were exposed to growing up, how we ate as children, our educational levels – we have all come to find that food is truly the deepest human connector. We see that humans are at a reckoning point with how food is raised, gathered, grown for human consumption, and if we don’t take a hard look at how we steward the land that sustains ALL life on Earth, we will have big challenges to face.  

Whew, that is heavy, but, it also feels very true.  And so, this team that makes up Bread and Butter Farm is on a mission.  We are united by sharing a sense of purpose in our lives.  We believe that there is a different way to “farm”, or really to care for land. A way where we can integrate back into a more natural, ecological system, one where the lines between plants, animals and human animals is more blurred, one where the wilderness and the farm are more blurred. One where we are just one partner in a whole system, not the dominating force OVER a system. 

This is what defines us, what motivates us, what drives us each spring when the birds and the bees buzz yet again and we feel young and invigorated, like anything is possible. We see so clearly that humans and animals and forests can all flow and integrate and thrive together.

We try to balance running a business and working collaboratively together within the construct of our modern day society to try and operate in a way that is antiquated and “old fashioned”. In a time when iPhones (we use them too!) and social media rule; where technology seems to be king, we are also experiencing a movement toward more genuine connection. The older ways of doing things are returning.  How do we operate an old-fashioned, modern farm business in the age of Instagram? It feels crazy, but we will try!

A huge part of our mission to steward land and animals and plants in a holistic way involves the kiddos.  Many of you know that our childrens’ programming has grown in the last few years. This has always been a HUGE guiding force in our mission, originating before Bread & Butter Farm existed.  I have always believed that in order to actually create real change in our food system and in our relationship to the Earth, we must engage our kiddos right from the start. 

We have expanded Camp Bread & Butter, and in the fall of 2017 we launched our Village School.  Of course, Mister Chris and his Music for Sprouts program has stayed steady and strong, serving as our foundation for building community and safety with our littlest ones, before they are big enough to come to camp.  With our ongoing partnerships with The Schoolhouse Learning Center and UVM, we also have been able to strengthen and deepen our connection to elementary, middle school, and college age students.  It is exciting!

So, together, we are defining how to operate this education - farm business in a modern era.  This also means legal structures and bank accounts and land ownership.  This winter we have been spending time researching how to do things differently, that is actually sustainable in the business sense (which is a perennial challenge for farms). This means that as an employer, we need to incentivize longevity, and support a community -- not just an individual or one family, but many households.  We are making progress.

But now, SPRING!  The renewal is coming, we feel it knocking on the door, we feel the antsi-ness of life bubbling and bursting, ready to pop, which means so will we! And then we will need to balance the work of working together with the work of land, plant and animal stewardship.  Until the leaves fall again and give us a minute to breathe again…..

Stay tuned for more. And thank you for being a part of our farm!  We are here because of you, because of the support you give us, because you are believing in what we are doing. Thank you!

 

 

 

Healthy, Local Fat: Rendering Pork Fat into Lard

Healthy Fats,
Local Fats

The Benefits of Leaf Lard & Rendering Pork Fat

by Mariah Notini

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It’s the beginning of March, and just when Vermont gives you a taste of spring, she hits you with another snow storm… I’ve been dreaming of the coming months, full of fresh vegetables and long days full of sun. It’s in these moments that I get my inspiration for a project in the kitchen. Kitchen projects are always what I fall back on when I feel myself falling into a slump of winter blues -- they give me an excuse to spend the afternoon in my pajamas, switching between podcasts, making playlists, and bingeing Gilmore Girls.
               
Rendering pork (back) fat is the perfect project for these last days of laziness because, although the process takes several hours, all you have to do is stir the spoon a few times every hour. Minimal input for a big reward!

Making lard can seem intimidating at first, however I assure you that once you do it the first time, you will find it well worth pushing your comfort zone. All you need is a sharp butcher knife, a cutting board, and a heavy bottomed stockpot.

The most important part of making lard is that you obtain high quality pork fat where the pigs have been raised on pasture for most of their lives. Lucky for you, here at Bread and Butter our pigs are raised just that way. The pork in our freezers came from animals who ate fresh grass, rooted in the dirt, munched tree nuts, gorged on thousands of pounds of organic apples, and were fed organic, non-GMO, soy-free Vermont grains (talk about high quality!)

 You might be thinking this is a lot to do just for some lard that you don’t know how to use… but ah-ha! To the contrary…you should know that there are many benefits to rendering pork fat and cooking with lard that go beyond an excuse to spend the day in your pajamas…
               
Things to know about lard:

  • Lard has higher percentage of saturated fats compared to mono- and polyunsaturated fats. The higher the quality of the lard you use, the fewer polyunsaturated fats will be in the final product (this is good!).  This matters not only for the essential fats you are getting when you consume the lard, but also because the percentage of saturated fat protects the more vulnerable mono/polyunsaturated fats from oxidizing with heat (which happens often with olive oil and butter). Oxidation of fats causes free radicals, which in turn can cause cell damage in our bodies.
     
  • Lard is amazing for cooking, sautéing, and deep-frying because of its high temperature stability. It also has a very neutral flavor and gives a wonderful brown crust to vegetables and meats.
     
  • Did I mention it’s economical?! The prices of pork fat have stayed low ($2-5 dollars/ lb) over the years compared to other high quality cooking fats. You can spend $6.00 on 2 lbs of pork fat from the farm store and yield an entire quart of lard!  
     
  • Because our pigs spend so much of their lives on pasture with little stress, eating wild weeds and rooting through the ground, our lard has a high Vitamin D content. Typically, pastured pork contains 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D per tablespoon.
     
  • Pork lard is a LOCAL source of high quality fat, unlike coconut or olive oil that is shipped across seas…. I’m looking at you, localvores!
     
  • Lard is wonderful to make flaky pie crusts and biscuits, as well as a good substitute for higher quality cookies and other treats where you substitute the lard for butter or hydrogenated oils.

 Now that I’ve undoubtedly convinced you that rendering lard is worth your time, here is how you do it:

How to Render Fat From our Woodland Pork:


Step 1. Cut lard in ½ inch cubes, making sure to discard any bloody pieces.

Step 2. Once all of the lard is cubed, pour a ½ cup water over the lard. (I did a ½ cup for 2 lbs fat… you can adjust the amount of water based on amount of fat.) Put the pot over medium-low heat and allow water to boil off slowly, for about 45 minutes to an hour.

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Step 3.  Stir occasionally on medium-low heat until brown crisp float to the top. When you see this, you’re almost done! Eventually, the crisps will sink to the bottom and at this point you can take the pot off of the heat. This whole process can take 3-4 hours on the stove top. Remember… low and slow!

Step 4. Let cool until able to handle and then strain out fat pieces through a cheesecloth or mesh strainer into a glass jar. The fat can be stored anywhere under 100F for at least 6 months.

Step 5. Salt and eat the leftovers or use in place of breadcrumbs on a gratin!

There you have it folks! Make you own local & nutrient dense cooking fat to make every vegetable sauté and pie crust that much tastier.

So go ahead, and choose that show you have been meaning to catch up on or make some tea and snuggle up with a good novel, and let the rendering begin!

Here is a simple recipe from bon appetit for oatmeal raisin lard cookies!

May you be healthy, wealthy, and full of fat this spring!
Xo, Mariah

March 9, 2018

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Happy Powder Day!

What a time warp of a winter we're having. Although, for those who remember, one of our biggest snow storms last year was at almost the exact same time. Thank you, snow goddesses.

While the greenhouses shed their fresh cathedral of snow, we're happily harvesting spinach inside their warm walls. Spring seeding continues, and we admire the impressive progress that Alex and his dad made on our new, indoor wash-pack room this week. It's always fun to watch drawings extrude into the third dimension; what was just a sketch last week now has walls.

Meanwhile, Bekah, Alex, and Corie are also on a charge to finish turning over the rest of the greenhouse beds in time for April transplanting. They hope to get as much done as possible before our most energetic (loving, smiling, quirky - I'm talking about Bekah, in case that wasn't clear) team member departs for her long (6 month) walk along on the Pacific Crest Trail. Given that the Bekah to Normal Human energy ratio is something like 1:10, we may have some transplanting parties on the horizon. Keep an eye out if your finger nails are feeling a bit too clean from a winter out of the dirt.

In the farm store this week we have some extra kale and braising mix from Jericho Settler's Farm on sale for $5/bag. We're also excited to start to stock our pork fat, also on sale, which is easily rendered into nutrient dense lard -- an excellent source of Vermont made fat.  Learn more about it from Mariah in her story below. There is only one more week until our next yoga & brunch gathering, so mark your calendar for March 18th and reserve your spot now. And, finally, Spring CSA sign-up continues, and we're hoping to close registration by March 26th! (Spoiler: keep eyes on the horizon for our summer CSA, we are dreaming up some very exciting new ideas!)

All the Love - Go play in the Snow,

Lauren & The Bread and Butter Farm Team

Blank Page Cafe - Origins and Evolution

Blank Page Cafe:
Origins & Evolution

It’s Friday morning in the summer of 2015 and I’ve just had my first few sips of butter coffee as I make my way to work at the Last Resort Farm in Monkton, VT.  As I head south, the horizon appears and I am overtaken by a sweeping moment of clarity. I am acutely aware of my surroundings and my place within them. The sense of understanding is transcendent, and I am amazed, humbled, and elevated by it. In this moment, I feel enveloped in a transformative energy: my goals seem attainable and worthy of tireless pursuit. As I pull into the farm, it is with the comforting certainty that I am heading in the right direction in every sense of the word. My day begins.

Fast forward 3 years and Blank Page Café is in its second full year in business operating in the farm store at Bread and Butter Farm.  In addition to many challenges (and many more butter coffees!) from that Friday morning in 2015 until now, there have been countless moments of triumph in the face of hardship, gratitude in the presence of support, and evolution in the face of changing conditions.  We’re working on so many enriching projects at Bread and Butter farm that have the potential to help Blank Page transform into a sit-down café whose menu incorporates as much of the nourishing and delicious food being grown and raised on the farm as possible.

We have a way to go to get from this point to sit-down café but we’re taking small, intentional steps towards realizing this goal! The most exciting development for me has been the introduction and continued ongoing focus on more savory gluten and grain free baking and food options.  We’re now offering frittatas on Thursdays, savory scones and much more! Keep a look out for new offerings in the coming months! Follow us on Instagram @blankpagecafe to get in the know about what’s to come!

Mike

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March 2, 2018

Earlier this week we heartily welcomed the shining sun as we watched the first few geese fly overhead. Later, over steak, some of us pondered who brought the most reliable sign of season change. Would we base our bets about the date of our cattle's return to pasture on the calendar? Or, perhaps there is some magical number of days we can count from the first visible new growth of grass or the first trickle of geese in the sky.

The date of sping grazing can be difficult to predict with any amount of certainty, but other cycles are surprisingly clock-like. As of today, all signs show that our matriarchal pig, Gertie, is likely pregnant. You might remember that we were concerned that this might not happen in time for spring farrowing. If all is well, her piglets will spend approximately 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days growing inside of her, and will arrive just in time. 

This week Bekah, Corie and Alex got serious about spring seedlings and made a trip to Unity Farm to start our hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, scallions, herbs and greens in their heated greenhouse. We also gathered for our monthly stakeholder meeting, where we discussed some of our near and further afield building projects. Alex presented his design for our new 3-season wash-pack room, and others weighed in on what might become of our staff outdoor kitchen. Mike, who many of you know from your morning Butter Coffee habit, presented some of his research on a lynch-pin infrastructure expansion project. This longer term project will enable many more dreams that we have on the farm, one of which is the evolution of Blank Page Cafe into a more full-service restaurant (read a little bit about the cafe in Mike's essay below!). For now, he's working on expanding his menu with some incredible savory bites. 

We are in the middle of registration for our Spring CSA shares and encourage you to reserve your spot now. Likewise, our next yoga & brunch event is coming up in just a few short weeks! Come move your body and fill your belly with food and friends. And finally, we just re-stocked short ribs in the farm store, so make sure to come try them while they are still on sale! You can find a basic recipe for them here. 

Education - A long View

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I love to teach every single age. I love to be taught by every single age. I've learned over the past few years how much one becomes the learner when stepping into the mentorship role, and how much I LOVE to be in a real life, nature-based educational atmosphere with people of ALL ages and ALL walks of life. I think I can safely say, everyone at Bread & Butter Farm shares a similar sentiment. 

Upon first arriving to Bread & Butter Farm, my dream was to work with teenagers. Corie aptly reminded me that the best way to find those teenagers, is to develop trust and friendships with kids. And when those kids grow up, there you have the teenagers you've been waiting for. Well, here we are. We have those incredible teenagers...perhaps you, the reader are one of them. And additionally, we have the new beautiful generation of kids coming up right behind them. And it's a cycle we at the farm are humbled and crazy enthusiastic to be swirling within.

These kids and teens light up our life. I love their quirky ways, their questions, their hesitations, and their realness. Teenagehood was a time during which I truly struggled and yet, my struggle has become one of my greatest sources of light. I hope to be there to lift up, light up, and support the teenagers in our community to fly and find their own powers and light. I am a firm believer in giving our children and teens places to be seen, heard, and places to take on real life responsibility, acting as leaders to one another and learning how to become the best versions of themselves that they can imagine. I strive to be there to step in and and hold up some of the most capable demographic in our community, to support them in finding their strength and voice, and to guide them to love and maintain the spark they were born with. 

 Perhaps all of this can help to pave the way for more learning from and with ALL ages and walks of life here at Bread & Butter Farm. 

With love,

Bekah

Edjumakayshin
a Poem by Bekah Gordon
 

Education.
How has this dry word come to symbolize something so whole, so out of this world?
Let's redefine learning. Jumble up the paradigm.
Call it Edjumakayshin!
Learning here at Bread & Butter Farm is the creation no, the manifestation of a whole startling planet of things that I can only begin to name:
Unconditional trust, yes this is one of them. 
A safe space to fly, yes this too.
Building friendships, and vulnerable hearts.
It is pushing buttons, boundaries, paradigms.
It is a stew of elderly reminiscing, catching whiffs of a time past and
the young, sparkling with wonder and racing thoughts.
The teenagers testing the waters and the middle aged turning to new chapters.
It is a quilt of beings which unites families that surpass genetics and blood lines,
religions, affiliations, gender, race, and preference.
It forges ties through soil, toil, weather, and shared experience.
From baby to elder, the moments of spark and learning never stop.
Day in and day out, every interaction plays a role.
The senses are open to each other and to the landscape.
Questions opening doorways to more questions.
Coyote tracks and square dancing,
Baking and seeding,
Chewing, carving, digging, and building,
harvesting, meetings, good mornings and sunsets,
calm, fast, sunshine, and rain.
Sometimes planned, mostly not.
Edjumakayshin. That sounds more like it.  

Learn more about all of our education programs here. 

February 23, 2018

Happy Friday!

The pre-emptive glimpse of spring this week meant a breadth of fresh air for our winter greens as we raised the sides of our hoop houses for the first time this year (though, we don't expect this to become routine quite yet). In support of our effort to fully close our cattle heard, we welcomed 7 beautiful animals from a nearby farm to our land. And, our weekly staff meeting was filled with ideas and dreams of what our CSA might become in the coming months and years (keep your eyes and ears open for developments!). 

Our camp directors Bekah and Ethan have poured themselves into further honing the Leader in Training (LIT) program for this year's summer camp season. This program fits within our mission to create meaningful roles and learning opportunities for people of every age and stage here on the farm. Bekah has been particularly inspired to develop our work with teenagers, and she shared a bit from her personal manifesto on education and mentorship in her letter below, and in her poemEdjumakayshin. 

Though we're brief on farm news this week, we're full in ways to engage right now; learn more about our Spring CSA sign-upLeader in Training Summer Camp Applications, and our on-farm women's Yoga & Brunch !

Warmly,
Lauren & The Bread & Butter Farm Team

It's Good to Be Back

It's Good to Be Back

by Alex Gemme


TiKahh..TiKahh..TiKahh..TiKahh...  The sound of sparks echos around the circle.  Snow is just beginning to fall outside of the shelter, and there is anticipation in the air.  The spark catches and, breath by breath, it is brought to life as singing fills the air.  Growing until the entire fire structure is engulfed.  Smiles go around the circle and we settle in to warm our toes as a story is told.

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After we finish our snacks, we prepare ourselves for an epic game of Turkey and Coyote.  A simple game, but with clear relevance to our ecosystem.  Its our first day back in over a month and there is a lot of energy around base camp.  The weather couldn’t be better, with calm winds and snow expected for most of the day.  Already our tracks are filling in and visibility becoming blurred.  Few animals are out and about today, and the only sound that breaks the silence is the occasional call of the raven, dampened by the fresh snow.

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A lot has changed in the past six weeks, since the last time we were all together.  Base camp has had a roof constructed and firewood is stacked in preparation for the cold months ahead.  Two more people have also just joined our community and folks couldn’t be more eager to show them around.   

Between the ages of 7 and 28, we now make up a group of eight enthusiastic, curious, thoughtful and creative kids.  Together we observe and question, follow tracks and work together, explore new places and learn new skills.

We head out from our shelter, running whopping and sliding through the freshly fallen snow.  With no thought of the past and little thought to the future, we chase the slowly fading tracks of the wild turkeys down the hill, in hopes of catching even a glimpse of these majestic birds.

For the next 4 months, we will be coming together weekly, cooking our lunch over the fire and getting to know our landscape in a deeper and more intimate way.  I reflect as I sit back in my post-lunch sit spot.  The snow is falling harder and the smell of woodsmoke drifts through the air.

I take a deep breath in.  

Its good to be back.

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This story was written by Village School mentor and farmer, Alex Gemme. Photos were captured by both Alex and Bekah Gordon, and audio was recorded by resident environmental artist, Nancy Winship Milliken.