by Angier Brock
Among my favorite vendors at our weekly summer farmer’s market is a trio of siblings who come each Saturday morning from their family farm across the river. I started out buying their fresh eggs. With yolks so richly colored that they approach orange (if you have ever eaten fresh eggs, you know what I mean), those eggs are amazingly delicious. I have also bought chickens—whole ones as well as parts—from these young farmers (the chickens are as tasty as the eggs) as well as some of the breads, cookies, and granola that they make.
Last weekend, some friends and I visited their farm where the family was holding an open house. “It’s good to know your farmer,” the father smiled, directing us to the place where the farm tours would begin and promising cookies and hot cider at the tour’s end.
Yes, it is good to know your farmer. Of course, most of what I eat comes from hands of anonymous laborers and from places that are much more distant than a thirty minute drive into the next county. In large measure, I don’t know the names or faces of the people who raise the food I eat, or of those who process it, deliver it to my area, and put it up on the grocery shelves. And so I feel especially grateful for knowing at least this one family. I am glad I can call each of them by name—and that they can call me by mine. I admire the hard daily work they put into raising food. I appreciate the respectful philosophy of husbandry they espouse, and I especially applaud their humane and healthful practices. I also feel humbled by their commitment to their call—seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, in both rain and sun, no matter how hot or cold.
We are not all called to be farmers who provide food for the table, but each of us is called to cultivate something to help nourish our own souls and bodies as well as to nourish our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our communities. Our call might involve teaching, making art or music, tending the sick, working for justice, caring for the earth, building or restoring something, keeping lines of communication open, volunteering for an organization that helps others, fostering faith, or keeping hope alive. It might include sharing our financial resources as well as our time and energy. We may not collect eggs each morning, but as we live and work and pray, we can strive to let God’s Spirit, working in and through us, grow its fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
And particularly at this time of year when it is traditional to celebrate bringing the harvest home, we can give thanks—not only for that harvest but also for the farmers.