"You give them something to eat" – Jesus of Nazareth
Thursday, June 6
As farmers, we work hard planning, planting, weeding, watering, fighting off pests, all to ensure a good harvest. However, there are realities that are beyond our control; there are larger forces at work that cause a seed to sprout, that drive the weather patterns, that cause a harvest to be bountiful or sparse. The fact that we are able hold a ripe strawberry in our hands is the result of much more than just a farmer’s hard work. The sharing of our “first fruits” teaches us this humility, and teaches us to look beyond ourselves, beyond our own efforts and rewards.
We have long had a practice at 5 Loaves Farm, that when we find the first ripe strawberry, snap pea, or cherry tomato, we cannot just gobble it up, but must find someone to gift it to. We watch as they enjoy that “first of the season” burst of flavor and joy as they savor these tasty gifts. This has been our way of honoring the biblical tradition of “first fruits”.
The feast of first fruits was when farmers would bring an offering of the first ripening heads of wheat. This practice has taught us for millennia to first recognize where all we have has come from; that we alone did not create any sustenance, wealth, or abundance that we have. The reward of a good harvest is not something that is owed us, and therefore not something that is ours alone to hoard. Our recognizing our place in this larger system that has gifted us with the harvest allows us to have generous and open hands.
This week begins our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share pick-up, where community members begin coming to the farm to pick-up the food that we have begun to harvest. We try to make our first CSA farm share an abundant one, abundant in flavor, abundant in value, abundant in the fresh goodness we are growing on the farm. Also, through the generosity of our community, we have raised funds so that each week we can donate one of our farm shares to the families of our youth staff.
Perhaps this could inspire CSA members to find someone with whom they could share this first produce from the farm. Maybe by sharing a meal with the neighbor, maybe by making a treat and giving it as a gift, or maybe simply giving away some of the produce from this week’s farm share.
As we do this, we believe that what we get in return, things like humility, relationship, and good will, which are not actually “things” at all, are much more valuable that any material blessing we could have held onto for ourselves!