Fall is Keeping Us Busy

November 23, 2011

We’re keeping warm with our farmer-made (under the direction community members Will Levin  and Michele Hatchette) cobb-oven on Route 7, and we’re hoping to bake next seasons pizzas in our new oven with the winter wheat, winter rye and five different varieties of garlic that we’ve just planted. We’re harvesting the last of the brussel sprouts, which you can find along with our squash, homemade bread and canned goods at the Fall and Winter markets. We’ve also had the pleasure of working cooperatively with farmer, Sean Stanton, using his mobile processing equipment and the farmers of Moon in the Pond  to offer free-range-organically-fed turkeys, ducks and chickens. Taking full advantage of autumn’s gifts we’re collecting and accepting leaves to add to our compost piles, in an effort to amend and build the soil, at our Route 7 site. Soon we’ll be offering pork-shares and start consulting for food-shares! Stay tuned 🙂

Mt. Everett Health Fair

October 17, 2011

CCF manned/womanned a table at the Mt. Everett Health Fair last week, an event which welcomed local organizations promoting health awareness to interface with High School and Middle School students.  A multitude of different approaches to health were represented (logically, considering how complex an issue Health truly is), including Al-Anon, Heart Disease Prevention, Youth Groups, Berkshire Grown (a local foods promotion group), and many others.  Community Cooperative Farms’ table espoused an interactive, hands-on approach to health: if you want to be healthy, take your health into your own hands!  We served hand-harvested herbal teas (chamomile, stinging nettle, and blue spruce – high in vitamin C and antioxidants, an immune system booster for Cold season!), freshly sliced green peppers and tomatoes, and 4 kinds of raw kale (for a Greens Taste Test Challenge), talked about natural approaches to health, and presented a sheet of questions for conversation on Healthy People, Healthy Food, Healthy Soil, and Healthy Society.  Some examples (see Health Fair Discussion Worksheet in media for complete file):

  • What does a Healthy Body look like? What does it Feel like?
  • Who are your role models of healthy people?
  • What is a healthy education? What is an unhealthy education?
  • What do you do when you feel lost? What makes you feel    centered  again?
  • Where does healthy food come from? Who has access to it? Who doesn’t?
  • What can we do to help heal the Earth? What can we do to Start those processes?
  • How does a healthy society treat people’s differences? How does our society treat people’s differences?

Reaching younger people takes a certain kind of willingness and openness to seeing the world as a younger person again – something our organization excels at, due to the fact that we’re still young in body and heart.  But we’re consistently amazed at how often older generations take on a role of estrangement from youth.  Youthfulness is not just a number of years – it’s a state of pliability, openness to change and new ideas, a lack of cynicism.  This cynicism hardens the heart and mind (and often body), and is a major epidemic in older generations.  If we aren’t willing to believe that change is possible, change becomes impossible.

It’s certainly true that interacting with others, expressing what you truly believe in, and trying to spread a message requires a huge amount of energy.  But that energy-expenditure only feels truly draining when it’s met with cynicism, hardness, closedness, rigidity – a complete lack of faith in humanity (in ourselves and others) and an unwillingness to try.  Talking to some people is like talking to someone on the other side of a wall, or trying to pull them up from a deep hole – if they don’t want to come out, they won’t come out.  With others, you recognize that spark of excitement, of passion, of belief, and you feed and fan each others’ flames, and you both leave the conversation strengthened, refreshed, rejuvenated.  Again, youthfulness isn’t a question of a number of years; it’s a state of being.


September 16, 2011

Roofed the hell out of the farm stand today. Something about being 20 feet up in the air on your own structure, like you were on a rock outcropping, but lifted by your own will – where there’s a will, there’s a way, so they say. Yeah, it’s scary – like Zadoc says, roofing takes just the right mix of awareness and intelligence to be careful, but enough craziness to be willing to do it in the first place – but it’s also exhilirating. And there’s no feeling quite like looking at what you’ve done and saying, “Wow.” Beauty pouring out of your own heart, your own mind, through your hands, and spilling forth into the universe, into your life, building something that can hold you, shelter you, lift you, a sensation that defies description – feeling it is all there is. And putting the roof on your structure is really a big step towards that transformation from a frame to a shelter; from an object to a home; from an idea to a reality.

A lot of our projects at CCF follow the same trajectory as this Farm Stand project: we start by identifying something we want to do, often something that none of us have ever done before. Then, we decide that we’ll figure out how to do it. Then, we do it. Finally, we look back on the journey, often a long and intense and sweaty one, and take a deep breath, and celebrate, knowing that we are, for better or for worse, one experience richer. We started the roofing project without knowing a thing about corrugated metal roofing; we ended with one beautiful farmstand, a lot shadier than before.

CCF Canning Workshop

September 16, 2011


Canning Workshop


Amidst a hum of cafe traffic and indie-pop muzak at the local Great Barrington Co-op supermarket, Mael and Freed Man introduced a group of bright and enthusiastic students (young and old) to the world of Home Canning. After a brief introduction to the theortical treatises of Canning, including a discussion of how canning helps us to eat delcious, home-grown, natural food all year, and safe canning practices that keep hazardous molds, fungus, and bacteria from spoiling or poisioning our food, the students broke out the plastic lettuce knives and chopped up peaches for a batch of home-made jam, and cored tomatoes for a big pot of home-made tomato sauce (recipes available!). Together as one, the entire class (teachers included) practiced their home-canning skills, filling their jars with the sweet, all-natural goodness of hand-crafted peach jam, learning the intricacies and subtleties of the process the best way there is to learn: by doing! By the end of the workshop, the teachers and students had transcended the giver/receiver relationship and were engaging in a mutually-enriching exchange of experience and information. A true joy for everyone involved; Certainly not the last time the CCFarmers will participate in workshops at the Co-Op!


Nonviolent Action

September 16, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that the philosophy and practice of nonviolence has six basic elements.

First, nonviolence is resistance to evil and oppression. It is a human way to fight.

Second, it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his/ her friendship and understanding.

Third, the nonviolent method is an attack on the forces of evil rather than against persons doing the evil. It seeks to defeat the evil and not the persons doing the evil and injustice.

Fourth, it is the willingness to accept suffering without retaliation.

Fifth, a nonviolent resister avoids both external physical and internal spiritual violence- not only refuses to shoot, but also to hate, an opponent. The ethic of real love is at the center of nonviolence.

Sixth, the believer in nonviolence has a deep faith in the future and the forces in the universe are seen to be on the side of justice.

In America we speak of living in a free country. But are we really free? Are we free to be who we really are? The answer is no, we are not free. True freedom has to be with the human spirit – it is the freedom to be who we really are.

Who stops us from being free? We blame the government, we blame the weather, we blame our parents, we blame religion, we blame God. Who really stops us from being free? We stop ourselves.

The freedom we are looking for is the freedom to be ourselves, to express ourselves. But if we look at our lives we will see that most of the time we do things just to please others, just to be accepted by others, rather than living our lives to please ourselves. That is what has happened to our freedom. And we see in our society and all the societies around the world, that for every thousand people, nine hundred and ninety-nine are completely domesticated.

The worst part if that most of us are not even aware that we are not free. There is something inside that whispers to us that we are not free, but we do not understand what it is, and why we are not free.

The freedom we seek is to use our own mind and body, to live our own life, instead of the life of the belief system. When we discover that the mind is controlled by the Judge and the Victim and the real “us” is in the corner, we have just two choices. One choice is to keep living the way we are, to surrender to the Judge and the Victim, to keep living in the dream of the planet. The second choice is to do what we do as children when parents try to domesticate us. We can rebel and say “No!” We can declare a war against the parasite, a war against the Judge and the Victim, a war for our independence, a war for the right to use our own mind and our own brain.

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements, 93 – 103

The Four Agreements is a summary of the ancient body of wisdom from the Toltec, a group of South American sages, who studied and mastered the science of personal and collective transformation. This book is an incredible source of inspiration to any seekers, be it a search for one’s true self, for one’s role in society, the best way to help others; its advice is applicable to any kind of physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual transformation.  Read it!

“To be Toltec is a way of life. It is a way of life where there are no leaders and no followers, where you have your own truth and live your own turth. A Toltec becomes wise, becomes wild, and becomes free again.”

Have no fear, brothers and sisters – we are all fighting to be free!

A Haiku

July 6, 2011

Sound is vibration

     But you can’t hear it unless

            You are vibrating


CCF getting dirty at YES, May 25

The Youth Environmental Summit (YES) is an event organized by the Berkshire Environmental Educators Network (BEEN), which includes Center for Ecological Technology (CET), Flying Cloud Institute, Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), Massachusetts Audubon Society and Berkshire STEM Pipeline Network. At the Summit, students from grades 3 through high school have the opportunity to present the findings of their environmental projects to their peers.

CCF participated by running an informative soil workshop led by Mael, Justin and Tashiana:

CCF is meeting “on the commons” in Minneapolis with social investors , folks creating land trusts, cooperatives and other social finance tools to help preserve and expand farmland for food, individuals who are farming, especially folks testing ways of borrowing and using land that isn’t owned personally as well as dealing with questions of succession and community-based revenue.

Since 2001, On the Commons has sparked collaborations, showcased commons-based solutions at the community and national level, developed approaches of how to share our commons equitably and given inspiration to commons activists to make a difference in their communities— and the world. As a commons movement strategy center, we connect organizations, community leaders and individuals with new ideas, practical solutions and one another to create significant change.

2011 marks our 10th anniversary and a big year for the commons. On the Commons is involved in a remarkable and ever-expanding circle of efforts to reconstitute community, re-localize food, preserve water as a commons, move towards cooperative economics and better harmonize our lives with the health of our planet.