Cultivating empathy

Kale! Growing happily in the field.

Here we are, at the beginning of February, but my senses tell me that spring has arrived. The cover crop is deep spring green and growing so quickly now. The field grown kale is putting on new leaves. In town, I hear lawnmowers in the distance. The sun is warm on my skin. Frogs sing their mating songs in the night. Birds sing their dawn songs in the morning. Flowers put forth buds all around.

It’s hard to not just rejoice in these things! And, we do! Without reservation, to be honest. Although it’s arrived earlier than we sometimes anticipate, the sensory experience of spring is just so full of bliss, especially for us farmers.

It’s wonderful to watch recently sown seeds germinate and grow rapidly in the greenhouses, bringing us the knowledge that in not too long we’ll be harvesting treats like tender arugula and the first of the radishes. So soon! So early! Such a contrast to last winter, which felt like it would never.ever.end. (It did, obviously, but in April we were doubting that we’d ever have a dry spell long enough to work our ground.)

On weeks like this, when we are treated with truly some of the most glorious weather for being outside in the entire year (much more comfortable than hot summer days!), I find that thoughts drift away, carried on emotions of contentment. Some days, this is just wholly enough — that gentle warm winter sun on my skin.

I’ve also been keenly aware lately of how much privilege provides that feeling of simple enough-ness — that I can feel those eternal moments of simple bliss because my basic needs have been met. Because I am not worrying about where I will sleep tomorrow night or how I will feed my children.

So many people in our immediate community, and in our global community, live with insecurity that eats away at any possibility of peaceful reverie. For whatever reason, my personal reading list has included several excellent recent non-fiction works that share, in detail, the stories of people living in different kinds of insecurity. The books document the daily struggles and huge sacrifices people make in order to find something resembling security, in order to eventually (hopefully) experience the full breadth of the human experience, including its joys. A theme of these newsletters in the last year has been the importance of empathy in our journeys together on this planet. Reading about real human stories helps me stay reminded of our inter-connections, our similarities, our differences … it helps me experience the breadth of my own humanity, including my ability to think beyond my own immediate perspective.

I highly recommend all three books; they are each incredibly detailed, well documented, and thoroughly researched. They are also all highly compelling narratives (page turners!), put together by very skilled authors. (For your convenience, I’ve provided Amazon links here for more information, but all these books are available in our local library system and could be ordered by your local book seller.)

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration ~ Isabel Wilkerson weaves together the history of the 20th century migration of African Americans out of the south with specific stories of individuals who left in different decades and landed in different regions. The book is heart-breaking and inspiring and eye-opening.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity ~ Katherine Boo follows the lives of many different people all sharing life in a makeshift settlement (i.e. “slum”) in Mumbai. Through their experiences, the reader gets a glimpse of the modern politics and situation of India, which affects everyone living in the country, even those who have no permanent address and live on the streets.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea ~ Barbara Demick tells the story of several North Korean defectors from one city, beginning well before they ever dreamed of leaving their home country. Their accounts of life in North Korea reads like a dystopian novel.

Reading is of course only one way we can begin to connect other people and the world we live in. Spending time outside feels like another crucial one too, as our connection to the other plants and animals that share this planet feels equally important to cultivate. What do you do to cultivate that understanding of people and beings beyond yourself? If it is not something you work on, I recommend finding a practice that will help you feel regularly humbled, connected, in awe. Meditating on the vastness of the universe. Community service. Listening to young children learning to read. Gardening. Prayer. A faith community full of flawed people to learn how to love. We need these practices as much as ever in the course of human history. It seems that it is only through an understand of our connections that we can ever find our way to true love and true peace.

And, also enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Reminder to extend your CSA season! In last week’s newsletter, we announced that our CSA season will now extend through October 18, but we want to hear directly from folks that they want to stay with us through all of those 40 weeks of delicious local eating. If you’re currently only signed up for the winter/spring season and want to extend through summer/fall, you can do so right now by filling out this simple form:


Yes! I want to extend my CSA season through October 18!


Or, you can extend in person at pick-up by signing your name on a paper form. Whichever is easiest for you!

If you haven’t signed up yet at all for 2018 and still want to, we are taking new members at any time! You can sign up online here, and we will prorate your price for the remaining weeks in the season.

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Sauerkraut [plain] — A new batch of ferment this week! This week’s is a more traditional plain sauerkraut made (of course!) with good organic cabbage from the farm. If you’d like some, bring a clean jar with you to pick-up or we can serve it to you in a bag.
  • Seasonal salad mix
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Butternut squash
  • Marina di Chioggia squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Pip pumpkins
  • Sunchokes — In our first newsletter of the year, I included a basic roasting preparation for sunchokes. That is one of our favorite ways to eat them, but we also often eat them raw. Their fresh texture is crispy like a carrot but with the pop of jicama (no relation! … just similar texture). You can literally just eat them (which our kids enjoy), but Casey and I often will chop them up fine, or even pulse in the food processor, and add them to cole slaw-like salads in the winter. We like to chop up fine cabbage, sunchokes, carrots (and maybe even some kale or chard) and mix it with a mayonnaise like dressing. To make it more of a filling salad, we’ll sometimes add chopped leftover chicken or raw tuna. These salads make a great meal for when we’re out and about, but they’re also yummy at home too.
  • Beets
  • Carrots
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