January 31, 2008
Hi, my name's Hannah, and I am Boistfort Valley Farm's biggest fan. I met Mike and Heidi in early 2004, and was their flower girl that season in exchange for a box o' veggies. Since then I have done many other jobs at the farm, as well as working the markets, where I have met many of you fine folks. And we all share something in common, which is an appreciation for the beautiful and delicious organic produce the Peronis grow for us. I, myself, am much obliged to them for putting a significant portion of the food on my family's table. I feel truly blessed to have such a farm just the next valley over.
And this winter I was given the opportunity to demonstrate my gratitude. We moved back to Pe Ell just in time to be here for the flood. Our life circumstances and the generosity of my family allowed me to take on flood recovery at the farm from day one. I am deeply grateful to Darrin, Kate, Maia, Koya, Jasper and Ruby for being so understanding and supportive as I disappeared every day into the mud and rain. They made my contribution possible.
My perspective is the "on the ground" perspective. I am the one who meets and greets volunteers and organizes projects at the farm itself. It has been the hardest job I've ever done, and one of the most poignant and inspiring as well.
Hard because mud is amazingly heavy and messy and covering EVERYTHING! Sticky, reddish, silty, fine, impossible to get off mud, everywhere. And it didn't stop raining for a month after the flood! So we're out in the cold, rainy mud, mucking about, seemingly without end. It's been hard because all the towns and valleys around us are devastated, and so many people, including Mike and Heidi, are still not back in their homes two months later. And many never will be. . . And hard, more than anything, because my best friends had their lives and their business washed out from under them in the course of a day. Our farmers, the hardest workers I know, given the opportunity of a lifetime, to work even harder. Here, let's see how deep that ethic of fortitude really runs, shall we?
And so they push forward, with all they have, from the unsettled comfort of their rental up the road. They finally got their cars replaced and the piles of paperwork they've been buried under is slowly diminishing. Their heads have appeared above it, at any rate. Baby Natalina, sweet, stubborn, center of the world, is now six months old! Sparkly with life and mischief, she is unphased by recent disaster, except for when it diverts mother's attention for longer than a minute or two at a stretch, which makes getting anything done a small miracle!
And this is part of what inspires me. Watching your already hard working farmers go so far beyond where they knew they could go, and never giving up. Tears often hover, but seldom fall from their eyes, diverted rather to more productive endeavors. So sometimes I cry for them. Like when Heidi's Christmas tree, muddy two feet up, got dragged outside, denuded of ornaments and tossed on the burn pile before Christmas! Sad. And when I went through the muddy baby clothes (a cliché now, I know). And when we said goodbye to Mike's black Ford pickup truck. And when we emptied the cooler of the last of the season's veggies onto the compost heap. . . I cry not just for the loss of the things themselves. I mean, things come and go in this life, right? But rather for the innocence lost at the great hand of nature. You can't prepare for that. Nor can you go forward unmoved, unchanged. It's like trying to walk upright in a tilted world. Eventually you adjust. And witnessing with what grace and steadfastness Mike and Heidi continue to adjust to these unimaginable circumstances is not only moving, but deeply inspiring. I thank you, my farmers, for being so willing to go the long haul, standing unflinchingly in the face of Fate.
The other great inspiration of this time has been seeing how generous and self-sacrificing people are when given the opportunity. And I thank you, our friends, customers, supporters all, for making Boistfort Valley Farm's recovery possible. It was through the immediate and unequivocal efforts of all of you out there that made the first steps not only possible, but a glorious demonstration of the depth and commitment of the human heart. A special thanks to our Markets and their managers for pulling together and organizing relief efforts, and continuing to do so still.
And, as I was asked to give an "update," I will do that now. It is day 60 since the great flood. Week nine. There is a bright, fresh blanket of snow on the Boistfort Valley, momentarily concealing the mud which still covers so many of the fields. The water is still not potable and few have yet been able to return to their homes. Most houses are still gutted, as is Mike and Heidi's, waiting to dry or to get the go ahead from insurance. The Grange is still set up as our command center, answering phones and feeding people every day. Lost Valley is still covered with logs and Pe Ell Mc Donald road has only just re-opened. Many houses are slated for tear down and many more neighbors will not be returning, including the owners of the store and the horse people across the road. And we at the farm are still out here in it. Still cleaning mud off tools, veggie crates, farm supplies. Still excavating garbage cans and hoses and tables from the mud. Still picking our floating row covers, which hang like tattered flags, out of the bushes downstream. . . The job is far from finished, and a new season is upon us! So, the first planting of alliums will be germinated for us at Evergreen, and the rest will be in the greenhouses we just put up last spring. Which means in the next couple weeks we must re-gravel and level them, make new tables, buy and install new heating and venting systems, get a new seeder, soil, planting flats and seeds. . . And then start planting your vegetables! It is an exciting and daunting task, and one which we look forward to.
So, in the spirit of partnership, I sincerely request that you, our devoted customers, help by signing yourselves and your friends up now for our 2008 CSA season!
Thank you all again for the contributions you have made to the recovery of Boistfort Valley Farm, and may you all have a year filled with many good things!
Feel free to contact me at: