Monday, October 13, 2008

Whittaker's Farm

Our Monday adventure this week was a field trip. One of the priests in this diocese is also a forester. Brendan and his wife Dorothy live over the river (and through the woods, it's true!) in Vermont. Dorothy runs a small organic farm (at 74, it's amazing what she does). In retirement, Bren still works with a bit with one congregation, manages his 60+ acres of forest land, and hosts a number of groups who come to partake of some of his encyclopedic knowledge about the Northern Forest.

A class from Brown University was spending the day with Brendan, and he invited Michelle and me to tag along. We wandered into a big bog (or perhaps a fen). I didn't get as soggy as some, but I did wind up over my shoes in muck. We identified a number of plants, including the lovely larch (or tamarack), the only deciduous conifer.

Following our boggy walk, we visited with Dorothy, who talked at length about small farming, local agriculture, and why she's not officially certified as organic (even though she uses organic practices). The reason for the last one, by the way, is that it's a great deal of paperwork that she doesn't want to fuss with, and her customers don't seem to care.

After a casual lunch, we walked around Bren and Dorothy's woods. Bren talked about forest management, showed us different plots where different strategies had been used, and in general regaled us with stories about his days in Vermont government (he worked for the state in forestry).

After the students headed back to Providence, Bren, Dorothy, Michelle and I did more visiting, and Dorothy sent us home with a big batch of tomatoes (which Michelle has already canned!).

This wasn't a huge hiking day, but it was a huge knowledge day, and great fun.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Tomatoes? I thought y'all had a snow up there. Must be some hardy ones!