There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been! ~Percy Bysshe Shelley
The autumn sky over Restoration Farm is indeed lustrous, perhaps to celebrate the culmination of a glorious growing season. It is my final official distribution for the year. How can something so anticipated pass so quickly?
Throughout the season, I tried to illuminate the stories of individuals whose work and new ideas contributed to the yield of the farm and the collective experience of the community. Long ago Restoration Farm cease to be just a source for food, as the stories of the people and the food became intertwined. Working daily at a place steeped in Long Island history, they’ve created a new history. As the season progressed, there were always good conversations, fresh greens, strawberries, raspberries, spinach, kale, heirloom tomatoes, green peppers and eggplant galore, tiny gold and blue potatoes, butternut squash and pastured chickens. Never was I hungry.
There is still abundant activity, even as the official growing season is winding down. In the fields, nourishing cover crop has taken the place of vegetables.
Donna Sinetar’s heritage laying hens have grown plump and chatty.
Volunteers are picking the last of the plentiful Swiss chard.
Tricia Hardgrove has cared for five different broods of pasture-raised broiler chickens that eventually graced our tables. It has truly been a delicious experiment. I catch her as she is moving the pen, allowing our final flock to dine for another day on fresh field grass.
At the distribution area, the baskets and flats are overflowing with vegetables and members are happily forging among the herb gardens and flowerbeds.
Head Grower Dan Holmes is placing the last flats of Chinese cabbage on the table.
The fresh greens of late spring have been supplanted by richly-colored root vegetables.
Head Grower Caroline Fanning, Ada and Kobi are greeting members as they arrive. Ada is contently snacking on a sweet red pepper.
Susan Salem is stocking the tables with lush, leafy heads of red lettuce. Susan manages the weekend distribution and always offers a friendly smile and a smart tip on how to prepare a vegetable.
My friend George Garbarini is sorting the heads of garlic we picked last July that have since been curing in the Red Barn. “This is the best time of year to work at the farm,” he tells me. “Even better than spring.”
And, the distribution tent’s resident rooster watches over all the action with an air of regal detachment.
As always, things continue to germinate at Restoration Farm. Caroline is already thinking about ordering seeds and attending winter conferences. Dan tells me a new field has just been cleared.
It is not the end, but a transition. For the community at Restoration Farm, there will be soon be garlic planting, perhaps another pot luck and a bonus Thanksgiving distribution for members who have signed up for next season. And, I’ll reach deep into my basement freezer chest for foods that remind me of the place and the people that characterized the growing season of 2011. Life at Restoration Farm continues and we are well fed.
©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved