Last week one of my greenhouse helpers, a long-time CSA member and faithful friend of the farm, shared with me the good news that she and her husband were expecting another child. I congratulated her, and later began mentally counting up all the babies that have been born into the CSA since we started it. Many more than a dozen, for sure. And if you include their older brothers and sisters, we could fill a standard school bus with all the children this farm has nourished over the past eight years.
Joel Salatin writes somewhere about the intimacy of the relationship between you and your farmer, how the farmer grows the stuff your body uses to make the stuff that makes up you. So I count it a privilege to have fed all those babies over the years, and in the years to come. It makes me smile to think of it. And it is a particular joy to welcome those children to the farm where they can see the place where that food is grown. To meet the chickens and look for kittens and taste the carrots pulled straight from the ground.
I think of one little girl who last season was fascinated by our ducks. Her heart’s desire was to be near them, so as soon as her family arrived, off she would go chasing after the ducks. She and the ducks had about the same running speed, so each week the same drama played out: the ducks waddling away from her, and she toddling after them, she never quite catching them, and they never quite eluding her. They ran like that all through the orchard, until her mother took her hand and led her out to the cherry tomato patch, where the little girl could eat her fill of the sun-warmed fruit, right off the vine.
I think of the little boy who when he visits likes nothing more than to clamber onto my old tractor and bounce up and down in the seat, making engine noises and calling out to his mother with delight—just like I did when I was his age. Then he wanders around the farm doing all manner of boy things: looking for bugs and worms, throwing rocks, throwing sticks, throwing clods of dirt and clumps of mud.
I think of the kids playing in the boxelder tree behind the greenhouse, its low-slung branches beckoning them to climb up into its leafy greenness. Or finding their way into the empty silo where they howl like wolves and delight in their noise echoing off its concrete walls. Or sitting around a bonfire on a cool summer evening learning to toast marshmallows and basking in the flickering flames.
Above all, I think of all that food flowing out of our field, moving from the soil, through the hands of the crew, into the cooler, onto the truck, and out to kitchens and tables, a river of blessing, nourishment, and delight. At least, that is my weekly prayer throughout the season, that this bounty nourishes body and soul, especially for all those new humans just opening their eyes to this big, beautiful world.