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Monday, August 5, 2013

Tomatoes, Basil, Coffee and Paul Make Me Happy

This morning I woke up at the farm after my week-long summer vacation to far off lands where I didn’t pull a single weed. The sounds of the farm were my alarm clock, as I heard the crackling of the farm truck pulling down the gravel road and into the fields; the crew’s voices humming as they grabbed bins to begin the Monday morning cucumber harvest.  Then, I slowly cracked my eyes, to find my dog Henry curled at the edge of my bed, the blue window curtain pushed into the room gently by the morning breeze.  I was home, at the farm. 

Only two days prior, I had opened by eyes and ears to the sights and sounds of Northern California (to weather remarkably similar to today) and spent my morning at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market, strolling slowly by each stunning stall, observing the vegetables—as a consumer, not a producer.  What draws me in to a particular stall? Is it the display?  I tend to prefer messy piles of produce—broccoli falling on top of eggplant falling on top of peppers.  But, I can’t help but swoon when I see rustic boxes filled with striped eggplant and pints of alternating figs and sun gold cherry tomatoes displayed in a pyramid in the middle of a glowing tent lined with fresh greens. I picked up melons to sniff and return to their resting place.  I purchased pluots and let the juice drip down my chin as I wandered through the crowd, my eyes lighting up when the produce looked exactly like what we have growing in the fields of Dover, and my eyes lighting up when there were veggie varieties I’d never seen before.

tomatoes, basil and coffee! yes!
I imagine that each market stall is like a mix tape—a thoughtfully crafted selection of songs, perfectly arranged in just the right order, to present an idea, a state of mind, a mood.  I think about our Barn that way.  The way we arrange the produce, the things we select for the share each week—it is a creation, designed for enjoyment, for putting you in a good mood. But, it’s a vulnerable thing, sharing a mix tape—I mean, sharing our produce.  It is out there, on display, what if you don’t like it?  What if that vegetable isn’t your favorite or that Talking Heads song just gets on your nerve.  At the Farmers’ Market I can walk in and out of Stalls, making my selection—lettuce here, tomatoes there—buying singles (do they still make singles?)  At Powisset, we are making you a mix tape every week and hoping you like it.   

It’s a scary thing putting our vegetables out there on display, so as I walked in and out of the tents in that market in Oakland, CA, I smiled at the vendors, gushed at their beautiful produce, and purchased some basil and tomatoes and cheese for lunch.  And enjoyed for that moment being on the receiving end of such delightful mix tapes. 

See you in the fields,

Meryl & The Powisset Farm Crew
(i'll be listening to the Talking Heads while picking tomatoes)

Ps. How do you like the vegetables? The experience? We are at week ten of our CSA! Half-way through.  If you have feedback, please let me know by emailing me at:

My Good Friend, Paul

Many of you know him as our Saturday greeter, our community organizer, our smiling philosopher, an artist of collage and installation, a poet, a kind soul.  His name is Paul Campanis.  He came to Powisset in 2008.  He found me out in the fields one Spring day.  He was wearing a teal button-up shirt with a bolo tie and a wide-brimmed straw hat.  He said he had heard about me and we needed to talk.  We sat at a picnic table where the flower garden now is (there was no flower garden then).  He told me about the elders in our community and that we needed to connect.  The farm needed our elders and his community needed and wanted the farm.  I said I wanted the very same thing. It was something that I had known I wanted since before I came to Powisset.  

That year he worked at the farm every Saturday as a work share.  He took very few vegetables for himself and gave the rest away, at lunches and teas in town, and at "A Place to Turn," a food pantry in Natick that he cares deeply for.  Our vegetables went all over town and beyond with Paul.  And with the vegetables, he told about our farm to all who would listen.  That year we also had our first Powisset/Council on Aging Luncheon.  Together, our crew, our farm and Paul were beginning to make the connections to our community that we had dreamed of at our magical picnic meeting.

Sometimes he would ask me if he could read me something.  I heard poetry in the wash station sitting on the stoop looking up at Paul. Sometimes we would pass like conductors on moving trains, doing our own business, winking at one another as we passed by.  Sometimes we would stop and sit and talk about food and feeding people and doing more and making a change.  And sometimes we would be quiet with each other, like we were this past fourth of July.  Together, we held space in the barn, running the distribution.  Me making 'to do' lists and saying hi to members, Paul bundling our rubber bands and taping a ribbon to each bag he completed.  

Last week, Paul moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be with his son and son's family.  There are so many ideas and "to-do's" on Paul's list that I know he will soon be beloved by many in his new life as he will, I imagine, be as involved and committed to his community there as he was here.  I didn't get to say a proper good bye to Paul, as it was his desire to quietly fly south, so I thought I would say goodbye here;  Paul, thank you for your friendship and kindness and all that you did to help make this Farm the special place that it is. I will miss you deeply and will continue with the work we started the day we met, to grow and nurture our community, always.

If you would like to send your own goodbye to Paul, please let me know and I can provide you with his mailing address.  Or, if you are ever so moved, Paul is devoted to "A Place to Turn,' in Natick and I'm sure would be grateful if there was ever a donation made to help with the good work done there.

Paul at the Powisset Farm Spring Fest!

Farm Stand Update!

This Saturday, Lisa B. Walker will be at the farm for her Mid Summer Pottery Sale!
Come check out her amazing works of art!

New Dairy Items!
We now have spreadable cheese and butter from the Appleton Farms Dairy Store! Yumm!

Did you order blueberries this week?  Unfortunately, due to some unexpected rain up in Maine, we won't have the blueberries for the Tuesday and Thursday pick-ups.  We most likely will have blueberries for the Saturday pick up.

See you at the Stand!

What's in the Share:

Up at the Barn: lettuce, bunched cooking greens, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, cukes and squash, scallions, basil or cilantro, beets, carrots

In the fields: sunflowers, cherry tomatoes, chard, kale, dill

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