The autumnal equinox arrives with quiet luminance at Restoration Farm. In a sense, the farm is like a lush, romantic landscape painting that evolves before our eyes. The changes are subtle, but evident. The growing season is reaching fruition.The colors of vegetables are richer and skins are firmer.
The topography is changing. In the fields, buff-colored Long Island cheese pumpkins dot the field.
Piles of wood chips, resembling a sand dune, have been left at Apple Trace for mulching the heirloom apple trees.
Manure is piled high in the fields to nourish the soil for the next growing season.
The ubiquitous kale is still producing nutritious greens, but the plants now resemble tall palm trees.
Canadian geese glide overhead. One hears the soft sound of a nurturing melody carried on the morning breeze. It is the gentle clucking of Donna Sinetar's growing brood of heritage laying hens. The progression of weeds has begun to slow. As always, there is evidence of people at work. The berries have concluded and the bushes have been cut back to encourage new growth.
Not all is bucolic. Nature can deliver cruel blows. The heritage meat bird program was cut short when a red fox quickly decimated the third batch of chicks – some thirty in all. Two of the cows from the historic village got loose and damaged two of the saplings at Apple Trace.
Glenn Aldridge's “Voodoo Garden,” an experimental edible garden, was attacked by ferocious pig weed in late summer that was so aggressive he simple couldn't tame it any longer. But, even amidst the morass of weeds there is evidence of Glenn's labor and small, perfectly shaped pie pumpkins are spotted.
Each season adds perspective at the farm. Insights emerge from heartbreak and disappointment, and we try once again.
The passage to autumn is a moment to celebrate the journey we've shared together and the ripening of the growing season. Dinner in the field brings you closest to the food and the community. At the annual autumn equinox potluck, we celebrate a thriving farm and community that is cultivating life, no matter the obstacles.
I bring an iconic autumn dessert to the meal that to me symbolizes the fullness of the autumn season. A pumpkin buttermilk spice cake is a sweet finish to the fall banquet and a harbinger of autumn and winter celebrations to come.
At the meal, we honor the farmers, the members, the volunteers and all their contributions. We celebrate the successes, the heartaches, and of course the food of Restoration Farm.
It is a fine celebration - filled with good food, fiddle music, friends and family - but there is wistfulness as well, as we know that soon the farm will sleep and this growing season will be but a memory.