"You give them something to eat" – Jesus of Nazareth
Thursday, June 29
One of the greatest joys for me while working at 5 Loaves Farm has been to experience the seasons in a whole new way. I have been able to watch the farm at its peak in the end of last summer, see the plants slowly fade and wither in the late fall and winter, then watch as the green and life is brought back into the farm in the spring and early summer.
Throughout the last couple months photographer, Liesl Keyser, has been visiting 5 Loaves Farm, documenting this process, preparing for the opening of her art show on Friday, July 7th at Buffalo Big Print. Liesl and Buffalo Big Print have decided to use this event not only as an opportunity to connect people with urban agriculture and the process of gardening, but also as a fundraiser for 5 Loaves Farm.
The show will feature photography from the farm, focusing on the beauty of the farm while highlighting its transformational process. This process of course does not happen without a great deal of work on the part of the farm staff, yet it never ceases to amaze me how we can transplant a few small leaves and watch them grow into a broccoli plant, or cover a seed with dirt and it can transform itself into a beet. The natural process of life and growth is something truly amazing to witness.
Liesl has been able to capture the transformation the farm undergoes as it transitions from winter, through spring, and into summer. The black raspberries (not without a little help) have changed from a tangled briar patch, to a pruned set of bushes preparing to yield fruit within the next couple weeks. The strawberries, once buried under snow, have already been producing sweet berries and a few varieties are even beginning to slow down their production. The garlic plants, planted in the fall and waiting underground all winter, have grown to over 3 ft!
It has become incredibly important for me to notice and watch and remain in awe of the process and growth of the farm. I try not to just take for granted the way the chard and kale continue to grow each week, even after we harvest them; the ways the beets are beginning to poke up out of the ground; the peas which continue to grow on the vines; the mulberry tree which continues to produce a surprising number of berries!
Through having Liesl on the farm taking pictures, it has taught me to slow down and notice these little moments and characteristics of each plant and vegetable. I can often think of the big picture of the farm and think back to when it was buried in snow months ago, but lately I have found great joy in slowing down and looking at the farm in snapshots.
This means just taking a moment to stop, to notice, and to appreciate. To see the beauty of a honey bee landing on a black raspberry flower and appreciate the impact of that act. To see watermelon sprouts popping out of a manure pile and see the hope paralleled in our own lives. Perhaps this looks like taking a moment to appreciate the cabbage you are cooking up, the tiny seed it started as, and the caring hands which tended it until in arrived in your kitchen.
Poet, environmental activist, and farmer, Wendell Berry, encourages us in a similar way in his reflection on sabbath: “Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. Its asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance”.
Perhaps we can take the time to take small sabbaths during the day. Instead of wishing that the onions were ready to harvest, noticing the abundance of cooking greens and spring mix now. Instead of wishing the prunes would ripen faster, take a moment to think back on the tree, unpruned and without leaves in the middle of the winter and how its begun to produce fruit in its own way and time. Taking a moment to stop and reflect on how the vegetables continue to grow.