The Farm at Stonehill
Something special is growing this spring at Stonehill College in Easton and throughout Massachusetts and beyond. I am not quite sure how to wrap my brain around it and express what I am seeing and feeling here. Having grown up in Easton and being old enough to remember the milk man, fresh egg deliveries, meadows dotted with black and white Holsteins, garbage trucks and backyard swill buckets it seems strange to say, hey everybody, farms are growing here. But, yes they are, and it is very exciting at many different levels.
New farms on old farmland, new farms growing home grown food, organic food, soil born sustenance sustainably grown.
This Farm at Stonehill is a unique investment and endeavor. It is an investment by the college in people. In people’s health, in spirit and by natural extension in land, in our community, and in the biotic community which, like it or not we are part of, not lord and master over.
Ponder this for a moment please, an investment in people................................................!
Investment in land, and in teaching, nurturing an ethic of sustainability.
It’s so cool, exchanging money, composting soulless currency into soulful sustenance for human well being in our own backyard by way of good green food in bellies. More than simply distributing food it is distribution of an ethic, healthy sustainability of the body human, the body earth, in what is by nature an inseparable marriage of necessity not convenience.
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue.
To avoid the second he should put a good split of oak on the andirons."
Aldo Leopold, Good Oak from A Sand County Almanac
I was at the farm early one morning before work making rows for planting. It was so very beautiful. The sun was rising over the tree tops tickling sunlight off and through drops of dew dangling from greens awaiting harvest in the afternoon. In the cool crisp air swallows danced, twisting and turning, flashing electric blue. All around were the subtle colors of fresh growth upon a palette of rich brown earth. As I scratched the ground I found myself humming an old garden tune, inch by inch row by row. I laughed at myself for forgetting the lyrics beyond and made a promise to myself, look em up. Which I did later that day.
One word of one verse stuck in my head, TUNE.
Sun and rain
Make my way through natures chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music of the land
The word tune brought to mind old radios with knobs by which a station of choice could be tuned. Today radios are equipped with an auto search which is convenient for locking onto the strongest and most popular signals. However, for this convenience the ability for one to manually tune to the stations in the space between is sacrificed.
With the old style much could be found in spaces between. Often it would not be the best quality sound, a bit scratchy, but there none the less, signals, music and messages from outside mainstream.
When time came to put down my rake and make my way to punch the clock and begin the days labor, I took one last look around the farm. In the shade of the oaks there remained a patch of dew draped greens. I thought, what a fine way to begin a day, a sip of morning dew from a leaf born of our labor. I plucked one from near the ground and munched happily upon it as I stowed my rake and made my way to the time clock. As I walked along a smile spread. I thought, life by the drop.
Throughout the day two words of substance clung to my mind like dew drops upon greens, Tune & Drop.
The farm at Stonehill and similar endeavors, growing good food and awareness of the injustices associated with food production occupy a similar space between. Space between societies consciousness.
Our corporate society functions with intent much like our modern auto tuning radios. They carefully craft at great expense campaigns to diminish voices and reduce competition for dollars from the space between. It is an extremely potent potion delivered to the public in myriad ways through media. Their messages saturate our environment, our living space, concocting a stew, steeping and swaying minds toward products and lifestyles which will provide them profit.
It’s every where today, at home on TV, on computer screens, in autos, on radio, at gas pumps and at cashier counters.
It’s everywhere, this constant corporate tune carefully tailored and determined to tune our minds away from between, turn us toward profitable products and on into their tills. Mechanized and compassionless, it has neither regard nor respect for individuals or alternatives. It is a beast hand built by unwitting, educated innocents, engineered and directed by corporate captains in urban tall ships of steel and glass.
It would be easy to drift now into a wordy and detailed account of the wrongs and injustices of corporate society past and present. For the purpose of our simple message such does not seem necessary. Such accounts and details are close at hand through many outlets for those interested.
It may be enough to simply pause without words for a moment to reflect upon corporate messages, commercials and the saturation of our living environment by them. Draw a breath and think about it for a moment………………………….........................................................................................?
How much of it do you absorb? How much of it is absorbed by your children, your grandchildren? How does the corporate auto tune play upon you? Does it sway you and your family, towards what and why?
Give it thought ?.....................................................................................................................................................................................................Is it good?
Within the spaces between where this farm and similar endeavors dwell is a simple and honest alternative.
Time clock punched, another pay day done, my feet return soil, my back to afternoon sun. Across the field Bridgete soaks freshly planted peppers with a fine spray of water as I slowly guide the tiller along. This other end of the day is no less beautiful than the beginning. The big hard midday sun has mellowed, slipping toward the tops of tall pines bordering Queset. My swallow friends still dance for me as a pair of bluebirds look on chatting to one another about events of the day.
From across the street a smiling figure draped in black with white collar approaches and looks on from the edge of the field a short distance from me. I have seen him around campus often, but have never met him. With a wave and a smile I shut down the tiller and walk over to say hello.
His name is Father Pinto, a priest of the Holy Cross. He is the son of farmers from rural India. We talk for a few after which he walks to where Bridgete is watering for a word with her. Shortly after the two of them meander back my way and look on as I finish tilling a bed for corn.
Three of us now standing by the field munching mustard greens, talking about life. We soon part company with a smile and follow our separate ways, Father Pinto to the church, Bridgete to the greenhouse and I following the tiller to the tool shed.
As I stepped across the furrowed earth, strength draining to soil, spirit full and rich, I mumble through a dusty grin, what sort of strange trinity is this? Father Pinto, a priest and son of farmers from the other side of the world. Bridgete from New York, a well educated farmer and teacher with a big heart and mind for people, she has worked in Africa and Central America for the good of those with less. Then me, yikes, me! High school flunky staggering from pill bottles, beer cans and car wrecks into the Marine Corp, a desperate act of self preservation at age 19. Today, a dad and a janitor here at Stonehill in my old hometown, my sons hometown, my dads hometown, granddads hometown and so on back for a couple more generations.
Despite this diversity of place and life experience in a deep down intuitive way something felt so very right about being part of that living scene. It is a difficult thing to round out with words, to wrap my poor brain around.
Drop by drop we deposit labor to earth. Inch by inch a garden grows. In the space between this exchange of physical energy something else grows, moves, radiates beyond the borders of the farm. Each green, each vegetable that leaves the garden for a hungry mouth is more than food. Each is a message, a dew drop of compassion, love and hope. Each falls upon our pool of humanity releasing a gentle ripple, speaking by way of energy through mindful action, a drop, a ripple, a wave, space between slowly moving mainstream.
This message of ours is a message to you, an invitation. An invite to take back the knob for a moment, give it a twist or two, lend an ear and an eye to alternatives. If you like it, if you feel it, seek a way, in your own life by the drop way.
Please help move the goodness growing in the space between to mainstream.
Grace & Peace
Visit the Farm at Stonehill
Our friends at Langwater Farm
What is the true worth of that hill of beans?
Our good freind Stanley Scharf explains
If you want to give your ears and senses a special treat lend an ear and listen here to our very own farm manager, our Sweet Soulful Sister of the Soil..............
While on the subject of soil, sound and soul let me share a poem with you. It was written in admiration of all of you independent artists of song and sound. I have no aptitude for such but your gifts move me and for that I thank ya. This came to me after taking in some tunes at a little place called Toad in Cambridge Land.
Seeds of poems you plant in the desolate rock strewn barren tundra between my ears.
My head shakes to rid itself of the cursed rattling and out they tumble.
I sort through them as best I can to remove the pebbles and grit.
Finished, started, anything at all, who knows, who cares, here goes. Yeeehaaaaa!
Soulful and sweet.
If but one and only one finds a song, a poem, the face of another beautiful, is
Earthbound explorations of the cosmos flower