Cantaloupes

Our cantaloupes are in now–coming in faster than we can get rid of them.

We grow the old Hale’s Best variety, a sweet heirloom.  We let the melons fully ripen on the vine and we pick them full slip, when the stems just fall off when the melon is lifted.  It’s sad how few people have had the pleasure of eating a full slip heirloom melon.  Notice how little rind is on this melon.

Of course we and our CSA members are enjoying the melons.  We’ve also been privileged to give lots of them away.  Our pigs and chickens love it when we have some that are going soft.

Here’s a little trivia.  What we call “cantaloupes” in this country (including the melons we grow) are actually muskmelons.  True cantaloupes aren’t grown in the U.S.  I don’t know how the word “cantaloupe” came to replace muskmelon.  My Grandpa always called them muskmelons (though it sounded like he was saying “mushmelons”).  I suspect someone decided “cantaloupe” was more appetizing that “muskmelon,” just as “canola” replaced “rape.”

In any event, our cantaloupes/muskmelons are delicious this year.  I encourage everyone to get out to your local farmer’s market and try to find some.  Ask specifically for the Hale’s Best variety.

I’m looking out the window at 5 young wild turkeys walking around in the pasture and realizing it’s time for me to get off the computer and go pick cantaloupes. 

Love Wins

The Only Possible Solution

For though we may be the Earth’s gardeners, we are also its weeds.  And we won’t get anywhere until we come to terms with this crucial ambiguity about our role – that we are at once the problem and the only possible solution to the problem. 
Michael Pollan

Our interns are now gone.  They were with us two weeks and we loved having them.  I think they learned a lot, and we learned much from them.  Aside from the practical good sense they brought to the farm, we loved that they share our passion for sustainable farming.  We were impressed, encouraged and inspired by them.

In addition to helping on the farm, they cooked a couple of great meals for us, joined us at our Grace and Main suppers, and went with us as we shared the goodness of the farm with those in need in the downtown slums of Danville.

On their last night here they gave us a beautiful card and a thoughtful gift as a reminder of their time here.  Inside the card was the Michael Pollan quote above.  We are optimistic about the young generation and therefore about the world.   May a generation arise, aware that we are indeed both the world’s gardeners and its weeds.  We are indeed the only possible solution to the problem.

Love Wins

Peace

Back when I posted frequently about politics and economics I had a lot more regular readers of this blog.  But a trip to Haiti, and a lot of personal reflection and life-change, convinced me to turn my back on that stuff.  For the past few years I try (not always successfully) to avoid political subjects on this blog.  I don’t regret that at all.

This year Virginia has been declared a “battleground state” by whoever decides such things.  So we’re being flooded with political ads, almost all of them negative.  The powermongers are desperately trying to convince the voters that there is a material difference between the blue option and the red option.  So they exaggerate the petty differences between the two of them and hurl lies and half-truths at one another.  But most of all they incite anger and fear with wedge issues, typically at the expense of marginalized people.  That little trick always works and this year is no exception.  Millions of folks will go to the polls in November, anxious to prevent “extremists” on the left or right (depending on their preferences) from taking the country down the drain.  Never mind that that there is nothing “extremist” about either of the mainstream parties.  Tens of billions of dollars are being spent to convince folks that there is, and the manipulators of public opinion are very good at what they do.

We got rid of our TV a long time ago, so we’re mercifully being spared the TV political ad blitz.  But now all the ugliness is spilling over onto facebook and the internet generally.  In this orgy of mudslinging and misinformation it seems that there is just no safe place to be. 

I can’t help but wonder how much good could be done in the world if all that passion and energy was spent doing good and building people up instead of inciting anger and tearing people down.

When I feel myself getting sucked into the fray, I like to think of this sentence from St. Paul’s letter to the Phillipians:  “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Still good advice. 

Wendell Berry has some too:

Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.

Love Wins

Tomatoes

We’ve been blessed with a bumper crop of tomatoes so far this year.  Of course we’re always at the mercy of nature and with drought and blight to deal with, it’s possible that our abundance will be short-lived.

But for now, we are feasting on delicious chemical free heirloom tomatoes.

So are our CSA members and so are our pigs and chickens.

And we are especially blessed by the ability to give away lots of tomatoes to our very poor and needy friends in downtown Danville.  After our CSA drop off on the past two Mondays our interns and I delivered tomatoes to many of our neediest friends.  Even after that, two Mondays ago we had so many left over that we were able to take the large box pictured above to God’s Storehouse, the local food bank.  Last Monday, after delivering lots of them to our extremely poor friends, we left the rest with one of our formerly homeless friends, who handed out the rest to folks in his downtown neighborhood.   And best of all, each of the past two Thursdays we gave away bags of tomatoes to folks who came for our Grace and Main supper downtown.  We picked 196 pounds of tomatoes Thursday morning, used about 30 pounds for our CSA, and gave the rest away.  We were also fortunate enough to have lots of cantaloupes to give away after supper and they were a big hit, especially with the kids.

It was great to be bring so much happiness, and so much delicious healthy goodness, to so many folks.

May it always be so.

Love Wins

Just Doing It

I recently met a man who pastors a small church out here in the country.  They have 20-30 folks who regularly attend, and most are elderly.  There’s nothing exceptional about that.  That describes a fairly typical rural church these days.

But there is something exceptional about this congregation.  A few years ago they felt a call to help the hungry and correctly recognized that they are blessed with a God-given resource that they should be using.   So they plant an acre of potatoes every year, on the land of whoever in the church can spare an acre that year.  The folks in the church get together a few days each year to plant and harvest the potatoes.  When the potatoes are ready, the folks in the congregation get together and get them up.  As a result, every year they donate thousands of pounds of potatoes to God’s Storehouse, our local foodbank.

What a pity this doesn’t happen more.  God and nature offer us the opportunity to feed our hungry neighbors and almost all of us decline it. 

We are blessed with some of the best land in the world for growing food.  Yet the vast majority of it is never used.  That is a real shame.

But for those folks who take a little time out of their lives to grow potatoes for the poor, I’m sure they have “Well done my good and faithful servants” in store for themselves someday.

Love Wins

Pretty Things

There are so many pretty things around here that it becomes easy to take them for granted.

Like this moth.

Or these eggs.

Or the squash garden.

Or my view when I’m strolling home, after feeding the pigs.

Too many things to mention, but that’s a decent start.

Love Wins