Preseason Newsletter #2 – April 3, 2013


Preseason newsletter #2
April 3, 2013
Two weeks ago when I wrote, I was feeling good about being caught up and ready for the season to start.  Well, I only remember I wrote that because I just re-read it.  Otherwise, I would have totally forgotten.  Everything else points towards being swept away by the beautifully unruly winds of the farming season.  The “to do” list has grown to be a life time of work through visions manifest.  We welcome this as an opportunity for dynamic meditation of balance between the demands (and rewards) of the land and farm, and our personal selves.These last few weeks have seen lots happen on the farm despite this tentative spring.  We significantly expanded two sections of our website.  We are writing our own curriculum for working with young people, both on and off the farm.  There will be more, but see what we have so far, here.  The cookbook section also has all of last season’s recipes from the newsletters, as well other Soul Fire favorites.  They are organized by season.  We’re here to support you eating locally all year round!  Here is the link for the fall recipes.  Browse around to see them all.We were asked a few weeks ago to be farm mentors for Chris Avery and Dior Doward.  Dior and Chris were part of the Farm Beginnings program at Hawthorne Valley Farm that Leah and I presented at last summer.  It was a joy to share in our knowledge, vision and enthusiasm for farming and justice.  We look forward to watching the two of them grow in very different directions, but equally inspired by a connection to land and justice.


That same weekend, we also welcomed the first of our baby chicks.  These are the first round of meat birds we are raising.  They are acclimating nicely to life in the warm brooder, though probably wouldn’t mind the typically warmer weather of spring.  Whole frozen or fresh birds are available for presale here, and will be ready mid-June.  If you are interested in helping on the day of the slaughter you are welcome to come learn, help, or just watch.

It is a time of year of babies.  Our baby onions plants went out to the coldframes (hay bales with a large piece of glass over it) as an in-between space to acclimate to life outside before being planted directly in the gardens.  Probably a good thing too, as we have seen temperatures of 20 degrees almost every day this week.  This week is usually when we go full steam prepating our beds for planting and seed and plant the first crops of the season.  But the ground is frozen solid!  The earth never relents.  As soon as the ground thaws, we wont be cold, but we will be covered in mud until May.  More welcome meditation.

Last Friday we hosted the third annual Black-Jewish Liberation Seder during the holiday of Passover – the telling of the story of liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.  Our seder ritual is inspired by the common stories of struggle and liberation between black communities, from slavery to civil rights to present, and the history of the Jewish people.  There is so much to learn from one another, yet, there exists an unfortunate rift between these two potentially powerful allies.  The healing is in our hands, and all the more powerful reminder in our own family of multiracial Jewish family. The seder is a powerful event that centers around the telling of personal stories of liberation, family stories, song, and celebration of our togetherness.

A long time coming: Leah and I completed our perennial plan.  Doesnt sound like much, but ultimately it means huge amounts of low maintenance, delicious food production happening on the farm.  Most all of it being fruits, nuts, mushrooms, and maple syrup.  This is very exciting for us because once our ideas are on paper, it is only a matter of time before these plans show their fruit – pun intended!  Over the course of this season, we will finish expanding out our annual and vegetable production, and prep large areas and soil for fruit and nut production.  There are countless wonderful plants that grow well in our climate here that many of us are less accustomed to that the typical foods sold in the supermarket.  To name a few, we will be growing hazelnuts, butternuts, currants, kiwis, Amercian persimmons, and paw paws, in addition to the typical apples, blueberries, raspberries, asparagus and grapes.  This plan calls for us to almost entirely fill the west field (the field in front of the house) with food, and move the chickens to the farther east field.

Part of the land use and perrenial plan already in motion is our woodland mushroom cultivation and maple syrup operation.  We harvested logs yesterday that will be inoculated with different varieties of Shitake mushrooms, and offer yet another way to diversify our diet, income, and creative use of the myriad micro-climates on this abundant land.  Many of the logs that will be used for our mushroom cultivation were cut from our sugar maple stand with the goal of strengthening the overall health of our sap producing trees.  Not letting this cold spring slow us down.  Elie, Capers and I trudged through the woods atop frozen ground, hauling logs on our shoulders from where the tractor could not reach.  Dinner tasted soooo good!

And yes!  Interns are here.  Capers and Melissa arrived on Sunday, and already are part of the groove here.  We are all enjoying each others’ company, working together, and, of course, cooking.  It also being vacation week for Leah and the kids, the house has been delightfully full of young ones, including, Elie, our fantastic 12-year-old potential intern from Albany.

Finally, the theme of social justice never evades us.  Last weekend we were honored to host veteran elder civil rights activist Colia Clark.  She blessed us with her story telling, song, brilliant intellect, and inspiration of what is possible.  We are also collaborating on a restorative justice project coming out the Albany juvenile prosecutors office, Jillian Faison.  Jillian joined us for dinner last night to discuss creating a program on Soul Fire Farm for individuals to fulfill their restatution.  Currently, when young people are convicted of a crime that invovles a fine, they work it off through jobs such as serving at McDonalds, mopping floors, whatever.  Jillian is proposing shifting the focus of this work to be a positive contribution to the growth of these young people AND community.  Our visions were running off the page, and hope to see a dynamic program by next season.

Have a wonderful week.
Jonah, Leah, Neshima and Emet


  • Your full CSA payments are due Friday, April 12.  REMEMBER paying through Paypal is optional. You can pay with a check or cash and avoid the Paypal fees.
  • If you are a shareholder, you can volunteer 5 hours over the course of the season in exchange for an additional week of food in the fall.
  • Pasture raised poultry is available for pre-sale here.
  • Remember that you are always welcome to visit socially and/or to volunteer. Give a call to schedule a time.  The house is cozy and the land is beautiful.
  • All of our newsletters are archived on our website
  • Please also like us on Facebook.  There are larger picture albums there, and more being added each week.
  • Return your cardboard egg cartons if they are clean.
  • Summer Solstice Party is June 29.  Dancing, trapeze, fire, food.  Mark your calendars.