August is a busy harvest month at Earthaven. Abundance (and labor) abounds.
Coffee Hour was started by Earthaven member Suchi in the summer of 2009. She was looking for a way to increase social opportunities and support the village economy. One picnic table outside the Trading Post held the coffee, tea, muffins, goods for trade–and all of us.
Every Tuesday morning for over two years, friends and neighbors have gotten together, rain or shine, freezing or scorching, for a social event with a different flair from the nighttime gatherings.
We now fill two tables with food and one or more with people, often with kids playing all around.
Here is the impressive list of foods available for sale or trade at the most recent Coffee Hour, all grown and/or produced right here in our valley: goat milk, goat yogurt, goat cheese, sunflower spelt bread, sourdough pumpernickel bread, sesame flax crackers, sweet red peppers, a wide variety of hot peppers, okra, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, onions, garlic, figs, fig preserves, potatoes, sauerkraut, eggs, kombucha, coffee, tea, and lemon poppy seed muffins. Some star highlights from the past include chocolate pies, lacto-fermented mustard, handmade jewelry, and pesto.
I have always liked attending this morning gathering, enjoying its unique feel. Now as a new mom who can rarely make it to events past an 8:00 PM bedtime, I have an extra appreciation for people getting together in the morning. I take this time to sell my baked goods, buy foods I don’t grow or make myself, drink my weekly cup of coffee, visit with folks, and get what Geoff Stone (very regular coffee hour attendee) calls “The Buzz” of the village. Also known as gossip, news, or keeping up to date, I consider this an important part of community life.
When the weather turns cold we will continue meeting through the winter inside the toasty Council Hall. But for now join us any Tuesday morning starting at 9:00 under the canopy in the village center. We’d love to have you!
At the Village Terraces common kitchen we haven’t stopped eating a diet based on local foods just because it’s February. In fact, we’re practically swimming in foods from our farm, Imani, other farms and forests at Earthaven, as well as regional farms and orchards. Our winter pantry goes way beyond cabbage and potatoes.
Imagine this recent meal—sautéed beef (from an Imani steer), home canned tomato sauce (Imani) with peppers (Imani), garlic and basil (VT garden co-op), and onions (Gateway Farm at EH) served with cornbread made from a neighbor’s homegrown and ground cornmeal and milk and eggs from our farm, and collard greens fresh from our garden. For dessert? Blackberries from a local U-pick farm (via our freezer) and homemade raw yogurt from our cow’s milk. All that hard work this past year is definitely paying off.
An inventory of our pantry: Canned tomato sauce, blackberry jam,
strawberry jam, and chicken stock. Dried summer squash, tomatoes, strawberries, and juneberries. Onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, apples, and a large variety of winter squash. For nutritional and medicinal teas- dried nettle, raspberry leaf, dandelion, comfrey, red clover, catnip, and peppermint. Sauerkraut, Kimchi, apple cider vinegar made from cider we pressed ourselves including some garlic and herb infused vinegars. Honey, berries preserved in honey and whiskey (ok, the whiskey came all the way from Kentucky, but we do made certain concessions), dried mushrooms and burdock. Right outside the kitchen door the rosemary, sage, and oregano live on and about twenty feet away there are still a few surviving kale and collard plants.
In our freezer we keep strawberries, blackberries, juneberries, and basil as well as beef and pork from our farm and venison from the region. We daily get eggs from our chickens and milk from our cow which in addition to fresh drinking goodness we also use to make raw yogurt and cheese. And while they aren’t actually local we are devouring and loving the cases and cases of citrus I purchased at a Florida farmer’s market while I was in Gainesville visiting my grandmother in December.
I fondly remember sweating in the July heat of the tomato field, collecting
those first spring nettles in the forest garden, staying up late into the night to can stock, handing over LEAPS (our local currency) in exchange for Gateway squash, the group work day in the fall to put in the garden co-op’s garlic crop and the most abundant fruit year I can remember. And I am eagerly looking forward to those first wild spring greens and the strawberries I can see out my bedroom window.
I have always been passionate about food, and since I’ve been living atEarthaven ( 1 ½ years) I have been able to begin the lifelong journey and spiritual practice of being an active participant in growing, gathering and otherwise obtaining my nutrients. Finally, providing my food and living my daily life are becoming intertwined.
Jenna, Marie, and Liz enjoy Sugar Baby Watermelon from the Village Terraces Cohousing Neighborhood garden.
“I never even liked watermelon before now” says Liz Diaz.
Small and sweet with a green rind, red flesh, and small seeds, Sugar Baby is a heritage variety and did well in our hot, dry, summer conditions.
“We must have gotten 40 watermelons from this 10’x75′ patch of garden” says Jonathan Swiftcreek, one of the neighborhood gardeners.
Firewood Workday NOT canceled due to rain!
In other news, our firewood workday had lots of rain, which didn’t seem to stop us or the dancing. We filled our firewood shed with wood from our 2008 agricultural clearing. Our boiler system heats our hot water as well as our homes.
Pictured above: Carmen, Bob, & Steve on the top level. Matthew, Lee, & Debbie on the ground.
Pictured right: Carmen and Steve dancing in the rain.
Creativity at Harvest-Time
What a busy summer it has been! How did it get to be September? Now we’re into cool nights and changes afoot.
Garlic is one of the highest value plants we grow in our Village Terraces neighborhood garden – it’s one of the few things everyone eats and is expensive to buy. I especially enjoy that we plant the bulbs in the fall when it’s cool and other gardening tasks have slowed down, and then the new garlic shoots are the first green and growing inhabitants of the spring garden – well before we’ve organized to plant anything else. Other than a couple weedings, they don’t take much care.
This summer started out with some rain and we’ve had dry weather for most of the past three weeks – excellent garlic weather! The bulbs actually went past ripe before we noticed.
This morning I went out to harvest them before they stayed in the ground another hot day. Steve, Jonathan, and Liz were in the kitchen considering what farm task the could do together for the morning and came out to help. Marie noticed the activity and joined the party.
After three hours of working together we have enough garlic for the whole neighborhood for the upcoming year curing in our woodshed.