The Emergence of the Culture of Life

Little Seed Gardens is a small farm in Chatham, NY. It is part of an emerging form of agriculture concerned with meeting human needs while recognizing our connection to the community of the living world. Little Seed has been our lives’ work. We have given wholeheartedly to it for our entire adult lives.

We came to farming seeking to live lives without harm, initially with the aim of developing our independence as a way of seeing the impacts of meeting our needs. Of course farming, like all human activity, is deeply social. We act as agents for others and depend on others for meeting all of our needs. Farming helped open us to see our interdependence with all people and living things and we began to discover the universality of human nature  and of the fact of universal human needs and values. This led us to begin to question how best to choose strategies that allow us to fulfill our highest potentials. What we are and can be and what we value are to discover. What we do to bring our potentials into being, our strategies, need to be tested for effectiveness. Little Seed is a strategy. Celebration of human wellness is its end.

So what is human nature? The way we see it now, people are the story telling part of what we have come to call the Upward Spiral* of life. Life is the anti-entropy that catches a portion of the sunlight that falls on our planet, Earth, and before it dissipates as heat lost to the void of space, turns it into 20,000 species of butterfly.  Life channels universal power into opportunity for expression in forms that build capacity to channel more power in a positive feedback loop that builds our living world. Earth is an organism of interconnected diversity and complexity which continually strengthens and heals itself. Our bodies are made up of the endless cycling of organisms and soil and water that ties us to all that has ever lived. This is what aligns our action. This is what gives our choices the possibility of supporting what is true or good.

We are life. Before any of us becomes an individual or gets the power to act, each of us is born from the body of our mother and raised through the helplessness of infancy by human love. Nurturance is the precondition of our ability to act. Our nature is to care for ourselves and one another, and because we are not separate from the rest of the living world, it is our nature to care for life.

When we see ecosystems simplifying and breaking down, war, hatred, violence, poverty, we are seeing human illness. We are seeing people acting in ways that are not effective in bringing about well being in alignment with our nature. We are choosing strategies that are not effective to support our values and meet our needs.

We see a set of universal human needs expressed by people everywhere, among them connection, physical well-being, honesty, play, peace, autonomy and meaning. Values and needs are part of what we are and are available for us to discover in ourselves. Our decisions about how we fulfill those values through action are available for us to judge for their effectiveness and utility.

It is easy to focus on what we do. Action is easy to see and because actions are our attempts to meet our strongly felt needs, we attach deep meaning to them. But actions are only worthwhile to the extent that they allow us to express what we are and what we can be. That’s why, though Little Seed is what our family has given to and strived for and loved for many years, we still see it for what it is- our best attempt to express what we are.

Regenerative agriculture, of which we think Little Seed is a part, is a cultural evolution growing out of a recognition of our nature as part of the seamlessly united community of life. We act with concern for all earth and water and air because we see it as the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the earth that makes up our bodies.

We face the reality that our current system of what can be thought of as Fossil Agriculture will come to an end. Fossil Agriculture is the highly entropic production that feeds the world today. It is an “Oil for Food” program. It depends on the Haber- Bosch process of making nitrogen fertilizers from natural gas,- solar energy stored by the upward spiral of life over millennia in the form of hydrocarbons. That process accounts for five percent of the total human use of natural gas annually to produce upwards of 450 million tons of Nitrogen fertilizers each year. Nitrogen is the building block used by plants to make protein and makes up the blood and muscle of life. Before Haber-Bosch, all terrestrial nitrogen was removed from the atmosphere and made available to plants by nitrogen fixing bacteria living in association with plant roots. It is estimated now, that Haber-Bosch accounts for more nitrogen fixation than that gathered by all land plants and that 50% of the Nitrogen in people originated through this energy intensive process. Industrial nitrogen fixation and the Fossil Agriculture it powers have allowed the human population to increase greatly by allowing area that previously grew plants converting sunlight into food for fertility to be used for food production. The danger in this is that this process inverts the upward spiral of life that gathered the energy that powers it. Not only is the well of power that Fossil Agriculture draws on finite, its methods, by their nature, destroy the habitats where life occurs. Its inputs are biocides that degrade the future capacity of a real time solar powered agriculture that must replace it.

When we are aware of the universal forces working through and around us, our power is amplified. As Paul  Krafel says in his book  Seeing Nature, it’s as if ” an ally will emerge and the work will grow on itself.”  One thing you notice when you connect with the emergent community of regenerative agriculture is resolve. People in this field come there to bring about a reality that is not yet materialized and not yet valued in the way it will be as its role in the unfolding of human potential is more widely understood. These people struggle continuously with adversity in a social environment that has not yet fully developed ways to support nurturance and long term thinking. They wake in the morning and face the elements and uncertain markets and the incomprehensibly complex dynamics of society and nature to turn sunlight falling on land today into met human need- not because they so love boc choy and good steaks, but because a culture of life is emerging through their actions. They are motivated by their understanding of the essential task of being human- to care for themselves and others and the living world they are part of. They see the truth of our collaborative nature and are resolved to support it as they are able in the moment. They see what they are working toward in the context of the struggles for abolition and human rights, requiring the resolve of people like Martin Luther King, who right before he died, affirmed his belief that his people would reach the promised land.

Cultural evolution occurs continuously and the way we act to express our humanity changes as we learn from the experiences of the past. There is also a timelessness to human nature which is ours to celebrate and to support by building on the wisdom we gather from those before us. We are here to tell the story of  the culture of life that emerges through us. To support the well-being of the community of life that surrounds us, to honor what has brought us here, to ease the way for those who will follow, let us choose actions that support what we are.  -Willy

 

 

*We encountered the idea of the image of life as an Upward Spiral in Paul Krafel’s book Seeing Nature

Advertisements

CSA shares- 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I bother joining Little Seed’s CSA?  Members enjoy being part of and contributing to the farm community.  They enjoy visiting the farm and seeing the season unfold each week.  Many people find that they make new healthy habits when they sign up for 22 weeks of vegetables.  Members feel pride in being part of the solution – by supporting a farm that practices regenerative agriculture.  Most of all the food is so fresh and delicious! Oh and baby cows too!

Do you grow everything on the farm? Yes, everything is grown right on the farm here in Chatham, NY.

How big is a share? 7-10 items per week.  An item would be like a bunch of greens, a quart of tomatoes, a pound of green beans- etc- similar to grocery store portions.

What if I can’t make pick up?  You can have a friend pick up and use your share if you are out of town or just let us know in advance and we can pack your share for pick up later in the week.  Full shares are priced to miss a few and still be a good deal.  Unclaimed shares go to food pantries like Long Table Harvest and members enjoy being able to share the bounty with those in need when they are on vacation.

What if I don’t want something? We offer a great variety of items over the season and lots of items to choose from.  In addition, we set up a trade box each week and members swap items as needed.

Are there activities during pick up? Members are welcome to tour the farm.  We love to have children explore the farm and usually have someone who will visit with kids while adults gather their share.  Many members like to relax and hang out on the farm during distribution when the weather is nice.  We have play spaces for kids.  Pick your own flowers are part of the share from late July until mid October and members enjoy gathering their own bouquets. We sometimes have tastings or events in late summer and early fall for members.

 

 

Food for Thought — A conversation and dinner exploring community food security in Columbia County details at: www.LongTableHarvest.org

Hosted by Long Table Harvest. Join us for an in-depth conversation led by individuals in the agricultural, faith, youth and emergency food sectors, followed by a warm, home cooked meal made from gleaned ingredients.

We start from the question: What does real food security look like for everyone in our county and what are the current challenges/opportunities we face in getting there?

When: Saturday, February 24th, 5-7:30pm

Where: Hudson Area Library

Who: Jody Bolluyt (Roxbury Farm), Pastor Kim Singletary (Overcomers Ministries International Church), Rebecca Garrard (President, Webutuck Teachers’ Association), Reverend Jeanette Johnson (Payne AME Church) and Audrey Berman (Long Table Harvest). Facilitated by Claudia Kenny (Little Seed Gardens)

What:

  • 5-5:30 Light refreshments
  • 5:30-6:30 Panel / Audience Questions + Comments
  • 6:30-7:30 Dinner

Food Gleaned from and Donated by: Hawthorne Valley Farm, Churchtown Dairy, Diamond Hills Farm, Wild Hive Community Grain Project

2017 Early Bird CSA Sign-up

february-262008-091We hope everyone is enjoying the mild winter. We have been catching up with family and pushing forward with developing our work in society with facilitation and Holistic Management trainings through the Agrarian Learning Center.  Days are getting longer, our last winter CSA distribution is this week, and planting for the spring is under way. Time to start thinking of the coming season.

Community has been very much on our minds lately. We have been fortunate to connect with many thoughtful and caring people through farming. Kids we have met through the markets and CSA come by and visit, or come work for part of the year when they can. Customers and former CSA members and old crew members keep in touch, sharing the changes in their lives. Young farmers collaborate with us in new ways on bigger projects they are taking on. We come to a continually deeper appreciation of our place, our physical home, and the people who animate it. That face to face connection cuts through so much that we shelter behind, sometimes it can be uncomfortable. Consequences are available to see, the truth we physicalise. It also exposes us to be seen, to share each other. That humaness is what moves us, and the fullness of experiencing it can be surprising. But that connection seems to be at the root of what the world is calling forth now.

We are collaborators. We bring forth our generations in care. What we do we can do because of those who came before us and who hold us up now. All little babies once, now we see our nature realized in loving association with our equals in freedom.

As farmers, we hope to be your agents. We want to share in your subsistence and connect with the power of the community of life to strengthen the place that feeds you. That place is ours, too. Our path to place has brought us to our knees. There we feel what we are made of- the bodies drawn out of the earth of our home, and the sunlight falling on the green mantle that powers our work and stirs our thoughts. Our kids are made of this place. Our community is made of this place.

When we walk here, we can see the impact of our shared intention, and more importantly of our shared deeds. The harrier can be here now. There is enough life. The community that has emerged in this place is stronger because we act together to meet our needs, to express our true nature.

This is the time of the year we recognize, very modestly, the importance for our farm that people hold it. We offer a $25 discount to previous year CSA members who join and pay before equinox, March 20th.

This is also the time of year when we welcome new members for the season. Every year we have a limited number of new memberships available on a first come first serve basis.  We are always happy to speak with you over the phone and answer questions you might have as you are considering joining us.  We are also happy to meet you in person at the farm by appointment if you would like to visit.

Sign up forms are at the website- littleseedgardens.com.

We hope you will join us for another year of sharing the wonderful produce of this place and the company of the people who make our community a celebration. Looking forward to visiting with you soon, -Willy and Claudia

Farm to Table Dinner

We are hosting a farm to table dinner at TSL in Hudson, NY. It will be an evening of learning, connecting and celebrating the bounty of the autumn harvest with local speakers, short films and a feast! Come connect with your neighbors and delve into climate change solutions for here and now. Read below for more info.
Hope to see you there!
~Willy and Claudia

Event Information:

Location: “Time and Space Limited” 
434 Columbia Street in Hudson, NY

Date: Friday, November 4th

Time: 3pm-8pm

Purchase tickets by clicking here

You’re Invited to Ignite a Consumer Revolution

This year the Savory Global Network, made up of the Savory Institute and its Network of Hubs, is broadening the availability of their annual conference, taking place on October 28th in Boulder, Co, by hosting local hub events across the world simultaneously on November 4th.

Farm-to-Table Dinner will be served by acclaimed Hudson Valley Chefs Consortium!

Speakers:

Seth Itzkan is Co-founder and Co-director of Soil4Climate. He is an environmental futurist investigating innovative means of land management that offer hope for reversing global warming. He is a TEDx speaker on restoring grasslands and with planned grazing. He has consulted for The Boston Foundation, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the US Bureau of the Census. He is a graduate of Tufts University, College of Engineering and the Studies of the Future Program at University of Houston-Clear Lake. His private consultancy is Planet-TECH Associates.

Shannon Hayes holds a bachelors degree in creative writing from Binghamton University, and a masters and Ph.D. in sustainable agriculture and community development from Cornell. Her essays and articles have appeared in myriad regional and national publications, including The New York Times, The Boston Review, and Northeast Public Radio. Her quirky lifestyle, her (admittedly imperfect) attempts to live a life of personal accountability and sustainability, and her research and writings about homemaking as an ecological movement have landed her and her family on the pages of the New York Times, Brain Child Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Lancaster Farming, Small Farm Quarterly, Hobby Farm Home Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, Grit, Yes! Magazine, Elle Magazine, Juno, the national newspapers of Germany, Turkey and Canada, the Arab News and the Pakistan Observer. She has written six books: The Grassfed Gourmet, The Farmer and the Grill, Radical Homemakers, Long Way on a Little, Cooking Grassfed Beef, and, most recently, Homespun Mom Comes Unraveled.

Diana Rodgers, RD is a real food nutritionist living on a working organic vegetable and pasture-raised meat CSA outside of Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to seeing patients in her busy nutrition practice, she has written the bestselling books, Homegrown Paleo Cookbook and Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go and is currently working on her third book. She also hosts the Sustainable Dish Podcast, and speaks internationally about nutrition, sustainability, animal welfare, social justice and food policy. Her work has been featured in Outside Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Mother Earth News and she writes for many more magazines and websites. Prior to opening her nutrition practice, Diana worked for National Public Radio and Whole Foods Market as a Marketing Manager. She can be found at www.sustainabledish.com

Phyllis Van Amburgh runs Dharma Lea, a 100% grassfed dairy farm, with her husband Paul and their five children. dharma Lea was one of the early adopters of 100% grassfed dairy production in the United States, and has pioneered that production model, including the development of the  Madre’ Method. She is director and an accredited professional educator of the Agrarian Learning Center, the Savory Institute Hub located in Sharon Springs NY. Educated with a masters degree in Occupational Therapy, and two bachelors degrees, OT and biology, and a supplemental degree in European Studies from the University of Antwerp, she brings this breadth of knowledge base and passion to her farming practice, the Savory Hub, her writing for national trade publications, and the work she and Paul do together supporting the Maple Hill Creamery producer group, and many other farmers of the Northeast USA.

Sara Talcott began her foray into the food world at internationally-renowned food issues think tank, Oldways, in 2008, where she combined her lifelong interest in sustainable food production and healthy eating with her writing and design skills into developing consumer-facing nutrition education programs including Vote with Your Fork, the Whole Grains Council, and The Mediterranean Diet. When then-startup Greek yogurt maker Chobani offered her a position on its ground-floor marketing team, she jumped at the chance to spend the next two and a half years steeping herself the CPG natural foods world, and propelling Greek yogurt from an import specialty product into a category game changer. A impulse purchase of a cup of MHC’s creamline yogurt in 2011 introduced her to the brand, and in early 2013, she began working with MHC marketing, branding, and public relations efforts. Three years later she is just as addicted to the Maple flavor as ever, and honored to be part of the MHC family, looking forward to continuing growing the brand and spreading the 100% grass-fed gospel. Sara hold an MA in Book Design and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

csa party – sunday, sept 18th 2-5:oo pm

Hey CSA members,

Join us for a pizza making party to celebrate the end of the tomato season, the equinox and all good things.

NOTE: We will send an email if we need to schedule a rain check on the CSA party, please be sure to check your email beforehand. (Rain date following sunday, sept. 25th 2-5pm)

Reminder to RSVP to littleseedgardens@yahoo.com today if you haven’t already.

Directions to the Farm:

#541 White Mills Road
Chatham, NY 12037

From South:

  • Route 9 to Route 9H North to Valatie, exit at Kinderhook Ave.
  • Turn Left at end of ramp and follow Kinderhook Ave. through village.
  • Turn right on Main Street at Valatie Medical Arts.

From Main Street, Valatie:

  • Follow Main Street about 200 yards and turn right onto (Chatham Street) Route 203 towards Chatham.
  • Go about 2.5 miles and turn Left onto Merwin Road at Staron’s Farm Stand.
  • Follow Merwin Road (about a mile) to the end.
  • At stop sign turn Left onto White Mills Road.

Our drive is second on left about 200 yards.  You can not see the farm from the road so look for our mailbox #541.  If you cross a bridge turn back around you’ve gone too far.

Please pull in as far as you can to lower parking area.  Please park tight.

518-392-0063 Willy’s cell phone
518-779-3203 Claudia’s cell phone

csa starting!

 

Dear CSA members,

Things are growing on the farm and we are preparing for the first distributions.  We are looking forward to sharing lots of beautiful greens and salad ingredients with you!

1st Rhinebeck  CSA distribution

Thursday, June 2nd

Pick up is 4-6 at Sunflower Natural Foods

1st Chatham CSA distribution

Tuesday, June 7th.

Pick up is from 4pm – 6:30pm at the farm at #541 White Mills Road

We will host some farm events throughout the season but if you are curious and want a field walk just let us know. We are passionate about our farm work and love to share the farm with supporters!

Please bring a bag if possible.  We will go over what to do if you can’t pick up your share and also tell you about our new affiliation with a food pantry group in our first newsletter.

Throughout the season we will help to orient you to the farm and our growing season through the weekly newsletters.  We are always happy to answer questions and are best reached via email but are happy to talk on the phone if you have any concerns over the course of the season.

For farm pictures check us out on facebook where Willy posts or instagram where Claudia and Mae post.  Look forward to seeing you soon!

Claudia and Willy (Little Seed Farmers)

 

Farm Phone: 518-392-0063

email: littleseedgardens@yahoo.com