The rain is expected to arrive this week; we are thankful.  As the holiday approaches, we take time to gather our thoughts and to wind down the 2018 season.  The farm is mostly finished for the season; most of the cover crop is sown and there are few remaining crops other than the brassica that will overwinter for a spring harvest.  Our winter squash, garlic, beans and dried peppers are stored away. The last apples are being gathered; the tomato bushes and peppers will be stripped before the rain. We are enjoying the cool weather foods; soups and stews, roasting and braising.

      The greens and brassica will be back in the spring but for now much of what is available is the stout, warming variety.  We are delighted to partner with other local farmers to access hearty winter vegetables. Local food systems are as much about partnership as they are about cultivation, and we are glad for the strength that exists in our communities.  

      Though food is the most important, integral part of our lives, we often tend not to focus on it.  It is as though we take this most basic ingredient of life for granted. Industrial society removes the sacred nature of food, teaching us that “an egg is an egg is an egg”.  The ritual of food preparation is derided as more and more “time saving methods” come into our kitchens.

       For many of us, food is no longer something that grows in the dirt, that walks on the grass.  It is a package that comes from the supermarket. We do well to remember the sacred nature of food; to hold value in the quality of what we eat.  Seeking out quality, local produce and participating in the ritual of food preparation is a way of grounding ourselves and enshrining the fundamental connection of place that was once universal to the human experience.

     There are often times for all of us in which we are too busy to prepare meals at home, or to seek out fresh ingredients.  Thanksgiving is a time that is ripe for partaking of these foods, and for considering ways to continue to do so. In a time of active re-imagination around the food systems in our country, we each have an opportunity to make steps in the direction of a healthy food system that helps to create happy communities.  

       There is great, compounding joy in taking small steps towards a better future.  Like many things in life, the task can be daunting if we look too much ahead; it is best to focus on the things that are doable today.  We can purchase food from local sources; we can prepare meals with our loved ones. Taking the time to learn a new recipe or to enjoy home cooking creates deep bonds with life.  Light shines through the experience, infusing us with a comfortable energy that is the basis for great strength.

      In a time of great change in the world, it is important to hold gratitude in our hearts.  Being grateful creates a hopeful lens through which to view the world. We humans have an opportunity to stride into the future by learning from our past mistakes.  Though climate change is upon us, all is not lost.

       As the rain arrives at last, we look to a future of greater drought preparedness.  Irrigation and tree planting bring back the deep-rooted perennial grasses and steward the forests, tending the oaks with love.  We see volunteer fire department trainings and community gatherings. Food systems work creates more opportunity for local production and local consumption.  We see strong farmers and land managers tending vibrant landscapes. We see public-private partnerships that provide resources for regenerative land-use practices.  Decentralized production systems partner with centralized systems for aggregation, logistics and distribution. New technologies aid in these movements, providing opportunity for greater equity in human life.  We will have the future that we strive to build; I look forward to the journey. Happy Thanksgiving, much love and appreciation!