I want to tell you a story about flour.
Remember a year or so ago, when you could purchase a flour share from the farm?
That was amazing.
As someone who’s more than a little enthusiastic about sourcing as much food locally as possible, flour from a NH farm was a game changer. I was recently talking with Luke about current events at the farm, and the subject of flour came up. “Hey,” I asked him, “whatever happened to the flour?” I was expecting somewhat of a routine answer. Perhaps the equipment needed replacing, or they had run out of space to store it. I assumed it was something simple and not all that exciting. But the answer he gave me, ah. What a refreshing reminder of the intricacies of farm life, of harmony, and of the careful balance that gives way to nourishment for us all to eat.
After Luke and Catarina moved the farm from Rollinsford to Canterbury, the cow herd began to grow. This increase in cows meant that the need for fresh green grass in summer and hay during the winter was quickly rising. Although the farm was now sitting on 600 acres, optimizing those acres in a way that would both nourish the land and keep up with customer demands was an ongoing and active responsibility. Land can produce many things, and when stewarded carefully, it can produce an amazing abundance, but there is still the reality of competing needs and limited resources for grain vs. pasture vs. vegetables vs. hay. Each time that the grain was ready to be harvested, the farm would scramble to fill the void, as it was a task that required Luke’s full attention for the better part of a month. At the same time, the increasing need for pasture and hay posed a real problem. There were 100 acres of land that would make prime pasture land if cleared of trees, but with the limited nature of time and hands, it remained wooded and unusable.
The solution lay in reallocating resources. By taking a break from producing flour, the farm was able to regain a month of Luke’s time during which he worked with staff and a local logger to clear all 100 acres. Although the logger’s time and equipment helped ease the burden of the work, each stump had to be pulled up by hand, one by one. Once this was accomplished, they were able to turn the land into pasture - all 100 acres. It is on this land where the entire beef herd grazed last summer.
Maybe I’m overly sentimental, but I can’t help but treasure this mental image: The farm stopped producing flour (temporarily) to instead produce pasture. Which then produced beef. Which then nourished families. The pasture is now there to stay. The green grass will grow each spring and will continue to support the beef herds, which in turn will nourish the land with their manure while their grazing keeps the pasture open and managed. This is balance. This is harmony. This is the cycle that we are all a part of when we eat Brookford beef or drink Brookford milk or bake (someday, again!) with Brookford flour. It is all intertwined. Delicately and roughly.
Farming is not easy work, nor simple work. It is work that requires sacrifice in a hundred different forms, and it is work that is very literally dependent on the participation, engagement, and love - yes love - of community.
Very soon, we will be sharing an upcoming project with the community. It’s a project that stems from that same place of balancing growth and resources with land stewardship and future infrastructure. We’re excited to share it with you. Stay tuned.