Weekends this month we've been vending out at the Jubilee Farm pumpkin patch. It's a good time, with hay rides, hot cider, a corn maze and a catapult that shoots pumpkins far out into the fields.
I love going out to this farm. I headed out there one day this past week to pick up some produce to use in my veggie mix. I'd had a stressful morning, with time constraints and everything taking longer than it should have. Then I hit farm country and I just felt the tension easing.
Jubilee has an unusual business model, doing most of their business through their CSA and offering work shares, where folks come out and work in exchange for a lower rate on their weekly boxes. As a manager, I imagine this must be a nightmare from an efficiency standpoint, with so many workers working such short shifts that few of them really gain the knowledge and experience to do things right. But that doesn't seem to be the point. The point is to get folks out to the farm, getting their hands dirty and feeling at home in the fields. And the members really do see to feel at home there. They know their way around and they talk about the place with proprietary pride.
I also love the name "Jubilee." The biblical tradition of the Jubilee Year designates periodic intervals when everyone who lost their land because of debt and misfortune would have it returned to them. Think about how different our recent history would have been if we'd had a similar tradition in this country. The families displaced during the Dust Bowl years and even folks who lost their houses during the recent foreclosure crisis would all have been allowed to keep their property. It's a wise tradition, one that spreads dignity and justice, and honors the struggles of small-scale farmers.