For many years, we have been members of a horse-powered CSA farm here in our town, the only one that I know of in our area. Four beautiful Belgians are the only means of power; used to plow, harrow, plant, cultivate and haul. Hay is cut, raked and gathered the old-fashioned way with horses doing the heavy work. In winter, they haul sledges of firewood from the woods to the farmhouse.
The garden season runs June through the end of October with weekly pickups of the freshest, most gorgeous, organic vegetables around. Local means fresh!
I look forward to opening day every year with its first spring greens. It’s a party and often the horses pull us around the farm in the big wagon with hay bale seating. Throughout the season they offer potluck suppers, music and dancing. Weekly pick-ups are very social, with friends catching up and little kids running around, playing in the sand box or climbing the tall pine just outside the door. On hot days, folks can swim in the river.
We are so fortunate to have this farming family as members of our community. End of the season is a sad time for me, for I know I’ll miss the food and the social scene, but by then my farmer friends are plumb worn out and look forward to enjoying the slower pace that winter affords them.
Yesterday, they had an old-fashioned barn-raising, the first that I have ever witnessed first-hand. A thing of the past, although Amish farmers continue the practice today, it was an amazing thing to see right here in town. Like worker bees, swarms of men and women volunteers (including some Amish), converged on the site to make short work of the task of raising the sides, roof trusses and rafters.
The owners’ ten year-old daughter created many helpful signs, directing us from the parking lot across the river to the barn site, to the food and the restrooms, including a reminder to respect the religious practices of the Amish.
Thankfully, the most recent, frigid polar vortex had abated the previous day and the day was sunny, practically balmy with temperatures in the mid-40s – Tee-shirt weather for those banging nails.
As my spouse and I were not apt to climb, nor hammer, we showed our support by bringing food for the volunteers. A buffet was set up and people came and went throughout the day as hunger and thirst demanded.
Just like on pickup days, neighbors eagerly emerging from their winter hibernation chatted and laughed, catching up on the latest news. Children of all ages, from babies in backpacks to older ones racing around, enlivened the scene.
A bit of gossip, some nostalgia, exchanging viewpoints, enjoying the beautiful weather. I felt happy to see what community-supported agriculture is all about; people connected in a common cause, contributing to the greater good.
If you are interested in learning more or finding a CSA in your area, click the link above which has information on community-based agriculture and directories of local food sources by zip code.
Update: Here’s a link for a one-minute, time-lapse video of the barn going up by Ben Barnhart (his real name!): http://youtu.be/7e6tMaZdyPg