Friends

Friends of Persephone

One of our favorite, and most indulgent, bits of newspaper reading is the Sunday, New York Times wedding feature. You not only get to vicariously attend a (usually) lavish event involving (usually) socially prominent people, but you also get a lot of inside info on how they met, how he, or she, popped the question, and all that.

We don’t usually deal with weddings here on the farm. Oh, we grow flowers for plenty of weddings at other venues, and we’ve even made the odd exception, (once.) Still, this is a  working farm, not a wedding palace, so as a rule–no weddings.

 But then, what’s the fun of rules unless you get to break them. And break this one we happily did this season after Devin Bodony and Robin Briggs came to us and asked if they could get married here this year.

Now you have to understand a couple of things about Devin and Robin. Devin, at 25, is one of the first of the Wise Acres kids to grow up and move out into the wider world. He’s a big, strong guy who can bike faster, swim longer, run farther than pretty much anyone else in these parts, and he also has that great intellectual quality, a probing sense of curiosity. He’s a cool guy. Judith and David Weinstock, Devin’s mom and stepdad, are arguably the hub of this remarkable community (we posted about Wise Acres back on May 10 here .)

And Robin…well, Robin is something special. She’s smart, she’s talented, and did we mention that she’s also stunningly beautiful. We haven’t seen her leap any tall buildings yet, but she’s clearly in the local Superwoman mold.

How could we resist, plus we’d get to go to a party that we knew would include knock-your-socks-off eats and terrific music. 

Here’s how it all happened. Devin and Robin were schoolmates at West Sound Academy–she two grades behind him. They hung around some back then, but weren’t anything more than small-school friends. “He was a major hippie,” Robin says. “He wouldn’t wear shoes and things like that.”

“She,” says Devin, “was definitely smart, quiet and…elegant.”

But still, just friends.

High school ended and Robin headed east to Sarah Lawrence. Devin became a serious bike racer and moved into a rental house with a couple of other guys at Miller Bay Estates. When Robin got home the next summer she showed up at a campfire party at the house. Something clicked, as these things sometimes do, and the next day they started dating. “We figured out there was something there,” Devin says.

When Robin went back east for her sophomore year, Sarah Lawrence just wasn’t as exciting or interesting as it had been the previous year. She started suggesting to her family that she might take off the spring semester and come back west. “I had all these reasons why I should come back,” she says. But her grandmother, who listened to all those reasons, figured it out, she says. “She knew the real reason was Devin.”

Robin came back, got an apprenticeship on a farm–not this farm, but one close by. She and Devin spent the winter and spring building a little house in the woods just down the road and moved in together. One evening last July, they were sitting on the hill overlooking our farm, dreaming about their future together. Just like that, Devin asked her to marry him. She said yes.

The whole thing, they both admit, was kind of spontaneous…kind of. “I had been daydreaming about asking him,” Robin says. After Robin said yes, Devin made her ring in his stepdad’s jewelry workshop at Wise Acres.  Among his other talents, he’s an accomplished goldsmith.

The nuptuals (as they say in New York Times wedding-speak) took place at 5 P.M. on the 14th of August under the massive big-leaf maple tree, just below the yurt meadow on Persephone Farm.

  

And here we need to break off for a minute because–we missed it.  After months of planning, weeks of prep work, days of mounting excitement, we blew it and got sick at the last minute. Fortunately, there are plenty of pictures to give you an idea of the ceremony and party. The one we really like (taken by Devin’s aunt, Shelley Weinstock) is this one and if you want to see more click on this link here to see Shelley’s full-bore slideshow.

Robin and Devin

A few additional facts. The wedding crew roasted two pigs, a goat and half a lamb for the dinner. Kate Briggs, Robin’s sister, baked enough panna cotta cheesecake to feed the entire West Side of New York City–we’re talking 350 hungry guests, and there were leftovers.

food

There were two bands, plus this crew that played during the service. They were still dancing at 3 A.M. when the cops came and told everyone to keep it down because they could hear the music in Suquamish, five miles away.

music men

 Perhaps the NYT wedding reporter had another engagement for that evening but we’re told they missed the party of the year. The bride and groom leave Monday for a two-month road trip around the west. When they return, they plan to live in Indianola in that little cabin they built themselves.

And we hope be happy forever after. 

 Persephone

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We have known Bob Dash for a decade, both as a neighbor and friend. He’s a member of the Wise Acres community across the road, a dedicated teacher, and a photographer with a telling eye. He’s also imbued with that wonderful quality, patience, which all the best shooters possess.  

A while back, we suggested that Bob and his camera spend some time looking at Persephone Farm. The results, we think, are often stunning and we’d like to share them with you. You can see even more of Bob’s work, and more of his farm photography, on his website, http://www.robertdashphotography.com/

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Back in March when I was first asked to photograph Persephone Farm for The Season, I was intrigued by the assignment. Living across from this property for two decades, I’ve witnessed a tremendous influx of energy and productivity since Persephone began. Although I’ve spent dozens of hours there over the years, I wasn’t prepared for the richness and depth that I’ve found.

Wandering around with my camera at all hours of the day has given me the excuse to pause and find the story within the story. The place teems with intensity; all the cycles of birth and death are played out by untold numbers of life forms, from the two-legged to the hundred-legged and everyone in between. Enter the gate or the greenhouse door into an inspired land where life hops, twists, digs, culls, climbs, flies, laughs, and above all, becomes its best.

Robert Dash

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Scarecrow and silver chimes: Sometimes drastic action is called for to prevent crop loss. Hanging this dead crow in the lower field did keep some of the crows away. I was drawn to the contrast of old silver chimes next to this ominous talisman.

 

 

 

Here’s some detail of the same crow wing two months after the previous shot.

 

 

 

Steamy compost—Louisa’s potent brew. So much effort to create abundant produce goes on behind the scenes. The complex art of soil enrichment with compost is one key to that success. When I taste a delicious strawberry or carrot from Persephone I generally don’t think about steaming straw and rotten plant matter—but here it is.

 

 

 

Kale goes out in flames. I love the “spring colors” of brassica leaves as they decay. Chlorophyll fades first, just like with maple leaves, and a host of brilliant pigments are revealed.

 

 

 

Sometimes the smallest life forms make the greatest contributions– the surface of this compost puddle is covered with springtails, minute hopping insects who are masters at speeding up plant decay.

 

 

 

Persephone never misses out on the chance to create yet another vegetable bed.

 

 

 

Mounds of lavender are remarkably spherical; I couldn’t resist blurring the rim to accentuate the effect.

 

 

 

Joel’s halo just proves what we all know:  that the farm interns are all angels.

 

 

 

Here’s newly-peeled garlic on the way to the drying racks.

 

 

 

During community gatherings at Persephone, it’s hard to find anyone who isn’t smiling.

 

 

 

Rebecca and her lavender gifts–little did I know that this one was for me.

 

 

 

Veiled peppers.

 

 

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When we started discussing the idea of writing a blog about a season on Persephone Farm, a few years back, we were still on the cusp of the local food movement. The term “locavore” wasn’t on anyone’s tongue and microfarms like ours were off the industry’s radar. We had 25 laying hens and our Saturday veggie sales at the Bainbridge Island farmers market sometimes were skimpy enough that we ate the leftovers through the following week. By June, when our CSA began, we were still scratching for subscribers. We did select a terrific pair of young interns that year—out of a handful of serious applicants.

How times change. The opening-day lineup of our loyal market customers grows longer each year, recession or no. Our farm’s livestock inventory is now 130 White Leghorn and Golden Sexlink chickens, five heritage turkeys and five sheep. We’ll be expanding again this year—and that doesn’t include Cleo, our resident pea hen, or the farm cats, Selmo and Oberon. Our CSA subscriber list is filling up fast and it is only March, and we picked this year’s four new interns came from more than 100 applicants. The last time I Googled “locavore”, there were 452,000 entries.

With all this going on, we figured it was time to get to it and invite people to come along as this year’s farm’s season unfolds. So here we are with a brand new blog. We plan to keep everyone up to date on what’s happening on our little farm—the good, the bad and the really, really dirty. You will get a chance to see what it is like to start from scratch—quite literally from scratch as we dig the furrows that hold the seeds, that grow the plants, that become the meals for the hundreds of people we feed each season.

Tom Posey friend of Persephone

You’ll get to know everyone around here, from the newest arrival, Mongo,  an exuberant mixed-breed husky/shepherd, who arrived last week with one of our interns and promptly chased Cleo onto the chicken-coop roof, seriously wounding her pride and barnyard status, to Tom Posey, one of our CSA subscribers, who showed up years ago to pick up his first box of produce on a Wednesday afternoon, and has come back every Wednesday since then to help out, getting dirty and sweaty along with everyone else. Tom even brings beer to share when we are done for the day.

We’ll introduce you to the farmers, Rebecca and Louisa, and to our interns, Greg, Caitlan, Joel and and Mondrian. We’ll show you around the place—the lavender patch down near the gate, Louisa’s orchard, where the plum trees are already in bloom and the apples are starting to bud out. You can visit the gardens where we grow 53 kinds of veggies and watch as we harvest salad greens so delicate they have to be picked at dawn, before the sun gets at them. If you stick around you can watch while we pluck a chicken and sample the new tomato crop. We’ll introduce you to our neighbors, Wise Acres Community, who include some world-class chefs and musicians, and with whom we share a meal every Monday evening. You can sit in on our garlic-harvest party in July, watch our apple pressing in October, and help choose this year’s farm entry for the annual Bainbridge Island zucchini race.

Along the way, we’ll spend some time chatting about more serious things like the economics and politics of food—subjects that are reshaping what we grow, where we buy it, how we eat it, and how it is changing our lives. Turns out, microfarming like we’ve been doing here for the last two decades, has suddenly become the hottest part of agriculture—the world is catching up and we’re right in the middle of…you got it…a trend. Don’t just take my word for it, ask Michelle Obama or click on the Farmville website, where 72 million vicarious farmers checked in last month.

So welcome to “The Season.” Be prepared to get some virtual dirt under your fingernails. It should be an interesting and exciting year for us all. We’re glad you are here, hope you’ll stick around and tell more people about us.

Persephone