“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.” -Wendell Berry
What would the soil be like at Bellwether Farm? That was the question I asked myself all winter while I waited for the snow to melt and reveal the hidden earth beneath it. I’d seen the soil test and knew it needed a lot of love and care, namely in the form of organic matter (e.g. compost). However, it’s really hard to know how things are going to grow until you’ve had a year of experience on a particular piece of land. Three months in, with the help of lots of volunteers and a giant mountain of compost, I’m happy to say we have an abundance of vegetables in this inaugural farm season at Bellwether Farm!
In light of this abundance, we began to host “Pick Your Own Veggies” days every other Saturday throughout the summer. During these days, members from the Diocese of Ohio and neighbors from the local community have come out to Bellwether to pick vegetables, visit the chickens in their mobile coop, and cuddle with the goats and farm dogs while taking in the beauty of this amazing place.
The vegetable portion of the farm has a movable hoophouse, a greenhouse, and a number of large plots planted according to vegetable families. Each plot has 14 raised beds that are each 50 feet long and 3 feet wide. In every 7th row, we’ve planted flowers and pollinator-friendly plants to bring in beneficial bugs, create a space of beauty, and tie into the notion of sabbath rest. It’s not uncommon to see one of the Bishop’s bees buzzing around in those rows.
Everyone has really enjoyed learning how to harvest their own vegetables such as salad mix, peas, cucumbers, kohlrabi, tomatoes, and potatoes. We have more than 20 vegetables growing at the farm as well as herbs and flowers. One visitor exclaimed, “This is like a vegetable amusement park!” My favorite harvesting activity is watching kids pull their first carrot out of the ground – a true moment of wonder and surprise!
Along with the “Pick Your Own Veggies” days, we’ve invited members from the Diocese to pick veggies for their community meals and food pantries. We’ve even been able to donate extra food to several feeding ministries including the Sunday community meal at Trinity Cathedral.
It’s been a gift and a joy for me to share this first year’s harvest at Bellwether with so many different people. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking with folks about different growing techniques, dinner recipes, and those pesky weeds! I’ve heard so many old stories of peoples’ childhood gardens and farms. These stories remind me of our deep roots – our ancient connectedness to the land, food, and each other.
I think back to Bishop Curry’s homily at the Dedication for Bellwether Farm back in November last year, when he prayed that this place would be a “root factory” where we cultivate connectedness. “Pick Your Own Veggies” days at the Farm is just one way we are connecting to each other, our food, and the land.
Thank you to everyone who has come out to support us this season. I look forward to the seasons to come as we build healthy soil, grow healthy plants, and cultivate a healthy farm and camp community here at Bellwether Farm.