Appreciating Neighbors

Neighbor and community are two words which show up frequently in our weekly farm blog. When it comes to community supported agriculture it isn’t all about a “CSA” or “farm share”.  And as we go back through the week-by-week accounts the community support from our neighbors is a consistent weave — the threads varied and colorful!

It started the day we first looked at the property. Across the street a large old maple was being taken down and this gave us the chance to meet Kati Osgood and Tad Dana. In subsequent months Tad and his tractor broke ground for our first garden and his brushhog helped the goats in converting the chokecherry and poplar sapplings into a mix of grass, forbes, legumes and other lushness which now makes our pasture.

kati and goat kidKati of course deserves her own paragraph. She patiently answered our questions as we rescued plants from her old kitchen garden (the Evon’s who built the barn and lived here for 2 years prior to our purchase had mistakenly tilled comfrey so plant material had to be rescued from the tangle as we enlarged the old pond). She led us to the fantastic network of trails Bill had created and their clan had maintained, each tour replete with the place names, introductions to neighbors and tutorials in local and natural history. Kati welcomed our herds and flocks to her grass– which we all loved, and came to the rescue when escapes or fence tangle occurred. How many romps in the woods has Kati enjoyed since her family moved here in the mid ’50s? Who knows but this indigenous knowledge helped us find the old rock walls which fast-tracked finding the line for our pasture perimeter fence.

And then there’s the Farley family.

First, Magen inaugurated our barn with her horse Funnyface. They interrupted their normal routine of shopping at Shaws approximately 358 weeks ago and have gotten up to 70% of their calories from the farm since! When hail lay thick around the tomatoes and tomatillos the evening of July 16th 2009, the whole family came down to rake the ice from the tender vegetation.

mark donna laura and hail

Mark has volunteered his “sturdy” carpentry skills and even sturdier math and computer knowledge along the way and Donna has been unstoppable in sharing her enthusiasm about the farm, from meeting lots of folks at the farmstand to show them the ropes or dropping everything and making pie crust when the WCAX news crew was heading down to do a story on pasture raised lard! They’ve used the farm to host a family reunion and other special occasions. Where would we be without their loyalty and encouragement?

donna rolling lard pie crust with wcax

Ray and Hannah shared information on their guest house and Ray has made sure our winter bedded packs have plenty of sawdust.  Liz and Roy wove their way into all of our hearts, helping to pot up hundreds of tomatoes and exercising their green thumbs when we fell behind in early years. They too have introduced their loved ones to the farm with special gatherings here and, together with Kati, have helped us to host Scrag Mountain Music’s spectacular evenings of music.

Roy and Liz helping Liva pot up tomatoesThe Elmers have been our go-to for the few but intense moments when we had to put animals down in emergencies. They, together with Kati and Rose Beatty, our forester, have all hosted tourists interested in the working landscape and college classes studying the Vermont food system. Pam, Jacob, MacKenzie and Cooper keep a close watch from across the street.  Just the other night when we drove up to the South barn to check on Amelia who was farrowing, we put them in a tough position as they faced the ethical dilemma of  calling farmers at 10pm or ignoring the fact that a car had driven down to the barn!

Tessa loading compost

Tessa loading compost

And then there are all of you who wave or stop to encourage us. And there are the skilled and dedicated youth who have been willing to work hard here. Tessa Bussiere was one of our first hires… anyone wanting to get a sense of all she added to this place should glance at the rock walls she put up with her Dad… at least two heart shaped rocks are there to remind all of us what the working landscape demands!

first bow of first hoophouse rion and casey

And I can still see Casey and Rion Elmer using all their strength and flexibility to assemble our first  hoop house.  And then years later to watch them, together with Taylor, manage with great efficiency chipping ramial tips of hardwoods so we would have the ingredients for fungal magic in our orchards and gardens. Morgan, Brock and Amelia Wrigley have all mowed and worked farm events. Katie Pedrick, though no longer living in the neighborhood, gave us a nod from Boston in her blog Grumpy When Hungry.

We are grateful for all the support and aim for reciprocity. We take being responsible neighbors seriously. And we believe that we wouldn’t be here without the help of our neighbors. Thanks to all!