<< Back to main

JOURNAL #12 FARMING DURING A PANDEMIC

Posted 6/12/2020 2:18pm by Esther.

JOURNAL #12 

FARMING DURING A PANDEMIC

Michael Tabor

June 12, 2020

We’re proud to have a strong activist farm staff this season.  We knew they would be good, committed workers, but we had no idea the extent of their passion for social justice.  So, last Saturday, after a very early start to drive to our first Adams Morgan Saturday farm market, Charmaine, our farm manager extraordinaire, drove Emma, Laura and Xandra downtown so they could participate in the peaceful demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter and against police brutality and the current corrupt police culture. 

They didn’t just march; they made contact with groups distributing free food and drinks for the demonstrators and discussed how we might donate some of our produce once our fields start producing with more abundance.  Due to weather, our fields are a bit off track for this time of year, but the staff has confidence and determination our fields will blossom enough to fulfill our CSA, market, gleaning and wholesale needs with additional produce to contribute to supporting the demonstrators. When I went to the demonstrations on Sunday, I also found at least 4 free food, water and snack tables and met Jose Andres’ folks providing free sandwiches. Our markets are having a slow start. 

Our customers take a few weeks to make the market part of their weekly routines so we are hoping, that with the increase in seasonal veggie and fruit, more folks will start showing up.  This week we’ll have lots of produce. So put on your schedules our Saturday Adams Morgan market (8am – 12:30pm at 18th Street and Columbia Rd) and Tuesday evenings from 4:00 – 6:30 at the Brookland Metro, under the bridge at 10th and Otis.

Last week’s CSA farm share included a bunch of decorative wheat.  On the Licking Creek Bend Farm we use the grain as a “cover crop” planted between strips of plants, including scallions, tomatoes and garlic.  The wheat keeps the top soil from eroding during heavy storms and brings up nutrients deep in the earth that helps restore the earth, especially when mixed with clover, rye and other restorative plants and legumes.

 

But, what should be of interest to folks interested in the connection between religions and agriculture is that this is also the time of the wheat harvest that coincides with at least 2 ancient Near East spring festivals – Shavuot and Pentecost.

Pentecost (the 50th day) is the festival celebration of the feast of first fruits of the grain (wheat) harvest and was reckoned by the counting of 7 weeks (called the Omer) from the beginning of the Barley harvest (that coincides with the time of Passover).  Both grains were planted in the fall (October) after the first rains (and the harvesting of olives, grapes and other late summer crops coinciding with the Jewish holiday Sukkot). The tradition was to beat palm tree branches on the ground next to the alter to anticipate the coming of the rains and the planting of barley and wheat (the holiday of Hoshana Raba).

One symbolic connection with Christianity is that, like wheat, grain must “die” in order to be consumed and in the fall, new seeds are planted – resurrecting a new wheat crop.

Over 40 years ago, when, as a young farmer, I started to understand the connection between the agricultural traditions and the origins of Judaism.  Periodically, I would be invited to religious school classes to talk about my relationship to Judaism as a farmer. At that time, some of the teachers were uncomfortable with my interpretation of agriculture and its connections with faith celebrations as being akin to “paganism”, while the students seemed fascinated.

I trust that has changed and is less threatening especially with the emergence of younger Jewish farmers who will or are gaining the insight that holidays and festivals are “layered” in earlier agricultural celebrations.

Let’s hope that today’s religious educators have expanded their teaching of Shavuot, for example, as not only about the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses but connected to its historical agricultural roots.

Last Sunday I went to the White House area to be among the demonstrations.  I was able to maintain social distancing and staying out of harm’s way.  I was struck by the lack of older folks (elders!) at the BLM demonstrations.  Our daughter said, “This is my generation’s struggle.” 

It’s a comfort to know that our passion from the ‘60’s to speaking out against an unjust war and civil rights continues in new forms and passion.  But it’s still in us, so join me next Sunday (meet at the Takoma Metro station at 1:30pm), with masks and we’ll bring our voices to the cause.  Let me know at 240 505-6282 or email. See you at our markets and in the struggle.

FARM VISIT DAY, SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2020 11:00AM - 4:30PM (cancelled for this season)