November 13

Yesterday I felt pretty darn good by day’s end. I still had to begin and end my day with the usual fistful of Advil, but I felt  pretty chipper because I had spent the better part of the day participating in giving something back to the greater community.

We hosted our fall gleaning with Willing Hands volunteers yesterday afternoon. The organization provides an invaluable link to food kitchens, senior centers, and community groups in need of food. Willing Hands volunteers own and maintain a high cube van, and they pick up donations from many sources in the Upper Valley. They particularly provide a service to Upper Valley farms like ours in that they make the connections and distribution of extra produce to those in need for us. Yesterday they came down to the farm with volunteers and gleaned and washed about a ton of carrots, likewise potatoes and rutabaga. There were about 20 individuals and it was well organized, the day was pleasant, and they got the 4 pickup trucks filled up with our produce as well as apples from the neighboring Riverview Farm in about two hours. It made us feel good to donate the produce, but it also felt good to  be associated with a volunteer organization that runs on a “duct tape and baling twine” budget, donates so many man-hours by a small number of individuals,  and still manages to make a tremendous impact in the community on such a basic level.

Immediately upon finishing up with Willing Hands, I honored a small commitment to Sam Lincoln, a fellow farmer from Randolph, Vermont, who recognized how devastated some of the Vermont agricultural community had become as a result of Hurricane Irene. Rather than breathing a sigh of relief that his family had been spared, he embarked upon a plan to try to raise money in some small way to give to those fellow farmers less fortunate. He and his brother (Buster Olney, who turns out to be a well recognized baseball commentator) thought they might be able to charge a couple of bucks to get some folks to to a roundtable discussion about the state of  professional baseball in the 21st century while raffling off a few pieces of baseball memorabilia.  I contacted him early on and asked if he wanted any free entertainement and we agreed that a little quiet acoustic music would be nice.  So I  gathered three of my musical bummy friends who thought it might be a hoot to play some bluegrass music for free on a Saturday night. As it happened, Sam and Buster’s idea turned out to be a small stroke of genius. The raffle turned out to be a huge silent auction on the Internet, the roundtable brought high-profile general managers from the Red Sox and New York Yankees among others. The audience sang along with a ramped-up bluegrass version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. The audience also got a chance to see the World Series Trophy up close and personal. The audience, by the way, was enough to sell out the VTC basketball gymnasium.  One of my bandmates agreed with me that maybe Sam ought to give up  farming and get into promoting bands and producing concerts, as it was a seamless, well organized event.  The final tally is not in as of this morning, but they were well on the way to raising $200,000 for Vermont farmers.

It felt good to be associated with giving something back, even in a small way. I sometimes feel guilty about getting myopic while I go about the day-to-day activities. Whether it is harvesting a crop, obsessing about the weather or wondering what to do about the arrival of a new plant pathogen on the farm, I easily forget there is a bigger world out there, and  people with bigger miseries and concerns. It felt good to be part of a slice of humanity that actually takes the time to address those problems that are not their own.