Thursday September 1, 2016

How do you describe the taste of elderberries… unique!  However, they are also very healthy for you.  Their dark color belies the antioxidants packed inside & elderberry syrup is used as an immune booster.  This week marks the first time elderberries will show up in our CSA farm shares! 
How do I describe the farm staff that’s been elderberriesworking with us this past year… unique!  However, they have been soooo good for the farm!  Abby is relentless in her hard-working spirit, always asking, “What’s next?”  We’ve gotten so much done in the last year, just because of Abby’s hard work!  Then Patrick, he is really amazing at networking, always connecting new people, resources, & opportunities to the farm.  The sense of community at the farm, along with our sales to restaurants around the city have both grown incredibly, all because of Patrick’s work!

For both Patrick & Abby, this week marks the official end of a year of service with 5 Loaves Farm.  We will miss the unique & extremely valuable talents they brought to the farm, but are excited to see where they get applied next!

Check out below as they share a bit from their time here at the farm:

Abby Erlanson –

“Someone once suggested that perhaps the best translation of Selah!—the Hebrew word we find sprinkled like seasoning throughout the Psalms—is ‘Shut up! And pay attention!’”

photo-2I stumbled across this quote last fall in Michael Yankoski’s book The Sacred Year. I had arrived at the farm a few weeks earlier, eager to get seeds in the ground and dirt under my fingernails. I was doing lots of shutting up and paying attention, but it was the practical, what-am-I-getting-myself-into kind (What’s a shuffle hoe? How do you cut greens? Who are the Buffalo Bills?). Reading the quote again, however, after twelve months on the farm, I wonder if this whole year has been a Selah! from God—a time to shut up and pay attention.

To tomatoes, for instance. I had never, I confess, truly contemplated a tomato before this year. I didn’t know the satisfaction of glimpsing the first red tomatoes among the jungle of leaves. I hadn’t tasted the difference between sunny, sweet orange cherry tomatoes and sharp, strong red ones. I wouldn’t have been able to describe the pleasure of pruning tomato vines with hands caked in the plants’ pungent, fluorescent green residue.

Or, as another example, to people. The variety of characters hanging around this handful of city lots astounds me. Whether by a new face or a new story, I’m frequently pushed to notice—to pay attention—and challenged to shut up my own opinions for a minute and just listen.

My list goes on, well beyond the customary length of a blog post or the patience of a blog reader. I hope it will continue to grow. As the writers of the psalms knew—or so Yankoski implies—it’s a good thing when God tells you to shut up and pay attention.

Patrick Kruse –

photo-2My mind works in similes. You ask me what it was like to feel God’s presence. It’s like having every lonely craving your soul is ashamed to express met all at once. Something you never thought possible but always hoped would happen is met in a moment of time. You ask me what it’s like to ride wooden roller coaster. It’s kind of like the opposite of an electric chair. You could call it a laughter chair. Hopefully by the end of the ride, your serious expression has been shaken out and exorcised properly for the demon that it is. You ask me what it’s like to work on 5 Loaves Farm. Well it’s probably a mix of God’s presence and a wooden roller coaster with unfortunate instances of being occasionally thrown from the ride and the unfortunate presence of fellow riders who occasionally behave like fire-breathing dragons.

Speaking of fire-breathing dragons, a mythical character on the farm is a dragon (some say he’s part man) named Trogdor the Burninator. The common verb associated with Trogdor is the verb, “to burninate”. Trogdor burninates countrysides, peasants, and thatch-roofed cottages while a rock guitar soars in the background. He was somewhat of an internet sensation in the early 2000s and one day while Abby and I were transplanting spinach on the farm, I had Trogdor’s inescapably catchy song rise from the depths a long-forgotten part of my mind. I almost wanted to start singing it but quickly remembered that dragons are best met with proper introductions. So I pulled out my phone and subjected her to the life-changing video and a song that would forever remain etched in the contours of her brain pathways. Sure enough, one Friday some span of time later, Abby’s voice came crying out through the thick summer air of the farm, “TRODGORRRRR!” Jessica, one of our regular volunteers, looked at us incredulously and asked, “What did you do to her?!”

That is a good question to ask of the farm. What did it do to us? Because we are certainly a little crazier and some would say less emotional stable than when we started working there. The farm brought us closer to a God who delights in destroying all our pretty little plans that we mistakenly think are going to make us happy. We experienced this together and were there to forgive each other for yelling at each other, not giving each other space, not communicating well or at all,  and not being silent when we need to. We kept making mistakes and we kept forgiving each other. Over and over and over and over again. What was the farm doing to us? Little did we know it was laying a foundation. It wasn’t long until the winter had passed and there would be days when one of us was missing and we realized something unexpected. We missed each other. We realized that without one person there, the farm wasn’t the same. This taught us to treasure one another’s presence and to enjoy it for the gift that it is. All this finally set the stage for being able to truly enjoy being together, whether things were going well or not.


We got to invite seven high school interns from different countries to work on the farm. We led them through a fun few days of scavenger hunts, water fights, faces were covered in pudding, and at the end of it all we all felt more at home together even though at face value we were worlds apart. What was the farm doing to us? It was making us a family. We began having a weekly mentorship meetings with the students. During one in particular I remember one of the interns asking, “Mister, when I was young, I was in my room afraid one night and saw a bright figure covering in light by the doorway. What was that?” This mentorship meeting had taken an unexpected turn. What was it? Maybe it was Trogdor, I thought. No, I didn’t think that. I asked him if we could pray and ask God to speak to him about that situation. Over the next 15 minutes, this amazing human being in front of me went from tears of fear and confusion to a light-hearted joy. I guess we’ve circled back around to God’s presence and the wooden roller coaster. His expression certainly reminded me of something just like that.

What has made the year at 5 Loaves Farm special is that it has been a space in which God has spoken. And it wasn’t in some boring, religious voice. It was in the voice you always hoped would speak to you but never thought could exist. It wasn’t a painless journey with constant highs. It was full of mornings where coffee slowly burned away the fog and seasons slowly changed in their time. Endless pizzas were eaten. Tomatoes careened across the backdrop of blue sky and landed on people in places where they did not want to be hit. Songs of a dragon-men filled the air of the farm. Foreign interns whispered and laughed in unknown languages that we’ll never know the meaning of. Their facial expressions made us feel like we were being made fun of. We relaxed knowing we probably agreed with them. This roller coaster of a year has pulled back into the station and unfortunately there are others waiting to get on. Will they survive the ride? That I am not sure. God is not a safe God. Because He wants you. He wants your heart and your love. And that is what we are most afraid to give. THAT is what has made the time at 5 Loaves Farm what it is. We experienced the real God together. Nothing is better than that. We were truly burninated in the best of ways. Perhaps it is best to close with my personal paraphrase of someone else’s words about Jesus. He’s actually the one who we all want to say thank you to for this year.

“Jesus is the living painting of the invisible God, the firstborn of every single created thing you see around you. For by him all things were spoken in to being…And he existed before all of it, and in him all things find their perfect place together…He is the beginning, the first one to rise from the dead so that others could follow after Him. And He is all of this so that that in everything, everything, he might be the thing around which everything revolves. For all the fullness of God, in His heartbreaking love, in His stubborn faithfulness that never abandons His children, in His mercy that is willing to except the worst and most downcast person, in His beauty that outflies the nimblest bird and outshines the most delicate star, all of this together was pleased to dwell in a person named Jesus. He is the living painting of the invisible God and He is giving you the chance to come home.” -paraphrase of Colossians 1:15-20

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