Planting as faith

Some of our newly planted tea plants have delicate white blossoms on them already! What a sight for sore winter eyes (especially with the sun shining down too!).

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Savoy cabbage — “Savoy” refers to the crinkly shape of these cabbage leaves. Savoy cabbages are well suited to cooking in Asian style dishes because the leaf shape picks up sauces nicely. Stir fry with carrots and leeks or chop fine serve raw tossed in a ginger-y soy salad dressing!
  • Mustards/Asian greens — Some of our mustard and Asian greens are quite mild and suitable to chopping for salads, but we’ve found that preference for this flavor varies among people. We recommend taking a little bite and deciding whether you would enjoy it in a salad (dressed with a creamy dressing perhaps?) or would prefer to sauté it, which will remove the heat from the greens. We love eating sautéed mustards with breakfast!
  • Butternut winter squash — This is such a classic winter squash, and over the years it has become our favorite because of its sweetness and its versatility. You can bake it whole and then use the meat, but we most often peel it (carefully! with a paring knife!), remove the seeds and then chop the flesh for cooking. Sometimes we roast it, but most often we use it to make a simple soup. Add butternut and chopped onions or leeks to a soup pan, then add stock to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until butternut is thoroughly cooked. Add a touch of curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Purée and then serve warm. We add cream at the table.
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • German butterball potatoes
  • Leeks

When asked what he would do if told the world would end tomorrow, Martin Luther is said to have replied: “I would plant a tree.”

I don’t remember the first time I heard this story, but the profound and simple faith exhibited in Luther’s answer has always stuck with me. I love it because he expresses so much faith in the natural world — the slow growth of a tree is used to illustrate trust in the passing of time … trust that the seasons will continue and that the earth’s bounty will provide. This is the answer of a man who either does not believe that the world will end so abruptly, or who does not take stock in man’s love affair with apocalypse predictions, or who simply can’t give up hope — no matter what the scenario.

You may be aware that 2012 is another one of those years when the world’s end has been predicted. In 2000, it was “Y2K,” a supposed man-made digital meltdown that didn’t come to pass. In 2012, it is the end of the Mayan calendar, which is supposed to mark the end of a very long era and possibly the world.

Of course, if we look at all the end-times that have come and gone in history, it’s hard to put much stock in yet another one, regardless of source or nature. But, this one has special significance for me, because it’s one I grew up fearing simply because of watching the television show Unsolved Mysteries at a young age. I don’t even remember the specific occasion of learning about 2012 from the show, but — like a perverse version of the Luther quote — it too has stuck with me and lingered out there in my future as a “what if?”

I’m an adult now and have greater perspective of course, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m not putting too much worry into this particular aspect of the upcoming year. There are way too many other things to keep me up at night besides a centuries old apocalypse tale! I mean, I have a toddler who wakes me up plenty, right?

But my old childhood fear does put a special significance on this transitional year of our farm, when we are laying the groundwork for new enterprises and a greatly expanded farm offering. This last week, in particular, felt like a powerful rejection of fear and an embrace of Luther’s brand of hope.

What did we do? We planted lots and lots and lots of trees. On rented land, no less (which to our neighbors represents a huge act of faith on many levels!).

Just this last week, Casey and Emily planted 400 fruit trees (apples, pears and plums), 70 walnuts, and 100 tea plants (yes, tea! When we say “full diet,” we mean FULL DIET!). This is in addition to the 225 hazelnut and 30 chestnut trees they planted earlier this winter. In coming weeks, they will plant 500 blueberry, 1000 raspberry, and 1000 strawberry plants.

This is an expensive and time consuming project, but we are so excited about the vast potential of all these plants and trees!!!! We won’t start harvesting anything for a few more years, so this planting is definitely an act of faith that the seasons will continue, that we will still be farming, that life will continue in abundant beauty!

We already have 225 fruit trees that we planted a few years back on our home farm, and it has been such a joy to watch them grow each year. This last season we were able to harvest enough pears and apples to keep our family stocked for the winter, and we can tell you that they have been delicious! We can’t wait to share these future harvests with you, our community of eaters!

Of course, when the sun shines as it has this week, it seems there’s no question about whether life will go on. The source of life is warming our fields even as I write this (and warming my soul at the same time). The trees that we have planted will be waking up in the coming weeks, and then our job will be to tend and water them as they grow into production. It will keep us busy, for sure, but it will keep us thinking about the future with smiles on our faces.

The reality, however, is that eras do end, and things do change. Even though I (mostly) no longer worry about the end of the world in 2012, it seems just as likely that this year could bring big changes to our lives. I know that our life here on the farm is in flux with the expansion, so I’m keeping myself ready for changes on the small scale. But things could happen on a big scale too.

I can’t help but feel uncertainty about some of these “big scale” things — the economy, continued wars abroad (did you know that the U.S. dropped bombs in six different countries last year?), this year’s election … Will the dollar have value in forty years? How can Casey and I (or anyone) properly prepare or save for the future with the current interest rates and inflation?

Yes, I still think about “big things” on a daily basis, but every year I find myself realizing more and more that my sphere of influence is here: our family, the farm, our community. And, this is not insignificant.

Planting trees today to feed all of us tomorrow matters in the most profound sense. Similarly, cooking a meal to nourish our family matters. Kindness toward a friend matters. Perhaps, in the end, these are the things that matter the most — these powerful acts of our own “small” lives.

Which is why I always come back to Luther’s quote. This is what we can do — in the face of very real and often scary uncertainty in the larger world, we can plant a tree. Amen.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
… and the rest of the farm crew!

~ ~ ~

Next week’s vegetables (probably!)
•    Salad mix
•    Butternut squash
•    Turnips
•    Sunchokes
•    Carrots
•    Beets
•    Potatoes
•    Garlic

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One Response to Planting as faith

  1. Nadya says:

    I was just admiring my tea camellia this morning! Not blooming yet, but so shiny and beautiful in the sunshine!
    As I understand it, physically, the earth & out Solar, which have a spiral orbit around Alcyon, (in our spiral galaxy) are now fully bathed in the photon band, so we each are called to shine our own lights, and enter a golden age (yes, the age of Aquarius, a 2000 year cycle)
    So, indeed, the beginning of a new cycle. And hopefully one we stop wasting resources on bombing each other!! Hands & words are not for hurting! Looking toward to my veggies!

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