Archives for posts with tag: farms

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Amends
by Jessica Gigot

It is hard to hold a homegrown
            head of broccoli in your hand
and not feel proud.
Seed to start,

seedling to robust stalk and floret,
I cradle this broccoli like my first born.

The infant I protected from damping-off,
            aphids, club root, and pesky flea beetles
                          dotting up all the leaves.

The green gleams and sparkles.
In that one hour on that one day

I made amends with the earth.

Other times, I buy the shipped-in stuff,
            California’s wellspring
Touched by a thousand hands
            and automated sanitation.

Sweat makes this one something special—
            the give and take of it all,
                          my muddied pride.

PHOTO: Broccoli garden. Photo by Marina Helena Muller on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after working in the garden last summer, feeling proud of what I had grown and also overwhelmed by how vast and harmful our food systems has become over the past several decades. Chef Alice Waters wrote, “Finding the beauty in food can change your life,” and I believe that appreciating the poetics of food and the work of growing food will lead us towards farms that are more ecological and in balance with the earth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Gigot is a poet, farmer, and wellness coach. She lives on a small sheep farm in the Skagit Valley. Her second book of poems, Feeding Hour (Wandering Aengus Press, 2020) won a Nautilus Award and was a finalist for the 2021 Washington State Book Award. Jessica’s writing and reviews appear in several publications, including Orion, Taproot, and Poetry Northwest, and she is currently a poetry editor for The Hopper. Her memoir, A Little Bit of Land, will be published by Oregon State University Press in 2022.

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How to See the World: Hunger
by Paula J. Lambert

When I first moved from Massachusetts to Indiana
I didn’t know how to see the flat black fields stretching

all around me as anything but oceans of mud. It took
time to understand the lay of that land, its change

of season, and that newly turned soil as black as that
held every promise of richness, newness, nourishment,

food. I began to see it wasn’t quite flat, that not all the
soil was so dark, that every rise or mounding, every

possible shade of brown was a different kind of soil,
meant for a different kind of planting. But while it was

still new to me, when I felt the first pangs of homesick,
a wanting that has never left, I sat down on the edge of

one of those fields next to the man I knew by now I was
destined to marry (still blessedly ignorant I was destined,

too, to divorce him) and gestured hopelessly across the
landscape. There’s nothing to see here. Nothing to look at.

The bleakness of what stretched around us matched
only the bleakness of what was inside. To his credit, he

didn’t lash out or take my observation as insult. He said
one of the few things I ever thought wise or helpful.

I’ve been to the mountains, he said, and I also thought there
was nothing to see. Those mountains were always in the way.

PHOTO: Cornfield and the Milky Way, Greenfield, Indiana. Photo by Eric Fleming on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER: When I stayed at a working farm outside of Indianapolis, I knew I wanted to take photos of the Milky Way while I was there. I was hoping for a clear sky but it was pretty cloudy this night, I took this shot during a short break in the clouds. I had the cornfield in my head before I took this shot because I thought it was a great representation of rural Indiana.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is one of four “How to See the World” poems in a collection by the same title, published in September 2020 by Bottom Dog Press as part of their Harmony Series. “How to See the World: Hunger” is the first of the four, the rest are “Thirst,” “Fire,” and finally, “Breath.” They are meant to correspond with the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air. The full collection was written in the spring and early summer of 2020 when we first self-quarantined and then stayed put. The poems were largely a sort of “how to get through the day” meditative response to the pandemic, though, as kindly written by Rose M. Smith in one of the book’s blurbs, they are about much more: how interconnected we all are while teetering at the brink of change… “How to See the World: Hunger” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert of Columbus, Ohio, has authored several collections of poetry including How to See the World (Bottom Dog Press 2020). Recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards and two Greater Columbus Arts Council Resource Grants, she has twice been in residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She owns Full/Crescent Press, a small publisher of poetry books and broadsides through which she has founded and supported numerous public readings and festivals that support the intersection of poetry and science. Learn more at paulajlambert.com. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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The Farmer calls for the migrant
by Cruz Villarreal

La pisca los busca,
y la siguen.

They follow the crops like hungry sheep,
who seek greener pastures, only they
must feed first the shepherds
with the labor of their hands
and wash the feet of the patrón, with the sweat of their brow.

They face the cold and dampness of the early morn,
no reluctance in their hastened steps.
The midday sun lashes them with rays of heat
that roasts them to a copper brown.
The brown that those in town resent.

The essential worker that picks from dawn to dusk
and sleeps in rundown shacks approved by
USDA.

They exist but are nonexistent to the squeezer of the melon
or watermelon thumper.
A penny a pound to face the dangers of the field.
Five pair of hands, five sets of legs, five aching backs.
Mother, father, sister and brothers,
it takes a family to pay the rent and feed the belly.
Vacations are for gringos and their kids.

Some migrants get to stay,
some run away when the migra shouts,
“Show me your papers.” and “Como te llamas?”

In a poetic refrain, we feel the pain of Jesus, Maria y Jose,
but they are invisible,
to the picker of the apple or the peach
who carefully select from abundant shelves
of uptown grocers,
the fruits of the migrant’s labor.

PHOTO: Seasonal field workers pick and package strawberries in the Salinas Valley of Central California. Photo by Rightdx, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this piece after reading an article about Michigan migrant workers and the resistance of Michigan Farm Bureau to Covid-19 safety requirements. It reminded me how we dismiss these workers because we do not see the labor behind the convenience of having produce at our fingertips, and the only reason they were in the news was because Michigan farmers might be impacted. I am a son of migrants and know of the hard life they lead for so little pay, yet their work is essential to the economy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cruz Villarreal is a poet in Michigan. He has degrees in professional communications and creative writing, and tutors writing at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan. For more of his work, visit his website.

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At The Farmer’s Market
by Tom Lagasse

Before the sun rises, they answer their call
to duty, like soldiers and monastics, while most
of their customers remain comfortably ensconced
in the cocoon of dream. Intertwined in a lovers’

relationship, the farmers reap the fruits of the earth,
of their labor they have husbanded from seed. They
tuck their produce into beds of pickup trucks and trailers.
One by one they arrive at the green or an empty church

Parking lot to create a market, ancient as society, where
they assemble their canvas tent village and folding tables.
With a retailer’s eye, they display week’s cornucopia: ears
of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions . . . The aroma

Of humus and exhaustion permeates the air. With their cracked,
calloused hands and fingernails semi-clean,,they wear
their Saturday best. Here the community is fed, and the cost
of exchanging love for money is rooted in hunger.

PHOTO: Staff from Tonn’s Orchard, Burlington, Connecticut.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this with a specific farmer in mind, but it speaks to farmers in general. Without farmers feed ing us, we cannot have a society and all the trappings.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Lagasse’s poetry has appeared in Freshwater Literary Review, Word Mill Magazine, The Monterey Poetry Review, Wine Drunk Sidewalk,   iamnotasilentpoet.com, Wax Poetry & Art, and Plum Tree Tavern, along with a half dozen anthologies. He lives in Bristol, Connecticut.