We had our first frost at the farm last Friday and myself (and I think farmers around Wisconsin) exhaled a collective sigh of both relief, grief, and gratitude. Relief that events at the farm will downshift to a more humane pace, grief for the passing of the squash that couldn't ripen, the dahlia blossoms that were cut short, descending into winter's decay, and gratitude for all the fullness, color, and bounty that this small corner of the world could produce such bounty!
I tried to capture all these thoughts and emotions in the last Flower CSA bouquet of the season and hope the pumpkin vase vessel will support the fall colors. A South Central Wisconsin seasonal bouquet would not be complete without integrating native prairie grasses.
I was out walking 'Up and Down the Hill' with my mother and a friend as part of the La Valle celebration this past summer and we were talking of relationships with our mothers and all the gratitude, headaches, tensions, and celebrations that come with it. My friend shared that in coming to terms with her mother's aging, she and her sister were putting together the ABC's of appreciation –a reflection of what they have learned and learned to appreciate about their mother over the years.
As I tuck in the farm for the winter months, exhaling from the frost-nipped fields, I thought I'd share in the ABC's of all the things that I have learned and appreciated from Mother Earth at the farm community this season beginning with:
Autonomy - and interdependence. Our food forests continue to subtley and not so subtely teach us about how to best design perennial polycultures of multi-purpose plants so we might share resources, create networks of mutual support in growing our own food, fodder, fertility, fuel, 'farm-a-cueticals' and fun. And like our orchard guilds, personally, I farm in part because I enjoy the autonomy in decision making, running a small business, and finding my niche. At the same time I reminded of how much as farmers, we rely on others to grow food in partnership with the land and our community.