AgriCulture: To Each Their Babylon

Operating in Germantown, NY for over ten years

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WHAT’S NEW THIS WEEK:Coriander and dill, $1/bunchOur lambs are fully reserved for July. We expect to do another batch in September. Reservations for whole or half lambs, cut to your specifications, at $7 per lb hanging weight, being accepted..
Troy BiltA Shared Resource Photo by Paul Raso
Hi all, Mark here.I’m sure I’m like many of you who, starved for the usual range of stimulus in our lives, have turned to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime to unwind from our stress-filled days. Here at the farm, we have tried to approach that endeavor in a programmatic kind of way, picking successive themes that might help transport us away from our daily diet of anxiety-inducing Covid-19 news: from every episode of “Sex and the City” to “Unorthodox” to the films of Xavier Dolan. Our most recent project, recommended highly by my friend Susie, has been the three available seasons of the German noir production, ” Babylon Berlin “.I’ve found the series, as advertised, gritty and riveting. But though set in the Weimar Republic, ninety years and 3700 miles away from here, I have not found that it has taken me very far away from our present. One of the themes of Babylon Berlin is the steady breakdown of order. Warring political factions and criminal gangs directing violence against each other, often manipulated by government officials whose ostensible duty is to promote public order and communal well-being. In the background, we see corporate interests navigating for advantage, a speculative stock boom that has little relation to the real economy, and an underclass whose suffering contrasts starkly with the good times enjoyed by the elite. In the complex plot line even transitory successes of the good guys take place in a world we know is falling apart economically and politically.This week, when I read that a church, whose pastor and congregation had defied bans on assembly for worship, had been burned to the ground in an apparent arson attack, I thought right away of Babylon Berlin. It was a very uncomfortable feeling indeed — a concern that our current culture war around response to Covid 19 could become a hot war. Will government lose its authority, leading to years of dog eat dog struggle? And will the hunger of the citizenry for order or salvation from suffering take us from chaos to a vicious authoritarianism like that seen in the Germany of the 1930s and 40s?With my entertainment not serving as an antidote to reality, I have found myself in need of an antidote to my antidote. I found it, oddly enough, in a dose of our current reality as I ventured forth from the farm. On a rainy Friday evening, I returned to New York City for the first time since my hasty departure on March 17, and from there went on a one day round trip to Eastern Long Island. The purpose was practical errands. I retrieved stuff from my apartment, and Eric from his. We delivered his dog, Lillie, to his custody-sharing ex, and we picked up a riding lawnmower to replace the very broken down old model in my garage which had become too expensive to keep fixing.I found a City still far more shut-down feeling than the Hudson Valley. My downtown neighborhood reminded me of Sundays in the late1970s when the Wall Street workers were gone for the weekend and nobody but us few residential pioneers lived there. But I also saw signs of a communal affirmation of mutual responsibility. Picking up my friend George’s mail from his doorman in Greenwich Village, we encountered on Seventh Avenue one of those magnificent floral displays installed as a Flower Flash by Lewis Miller Design( Flower Flash is a long term public floral display project that Mr. Miller has transformed into strategically placed installations of inspiration during the pandemic. As we arrived at Eric’s in Astoria, just at 7 pm., the daily evening public cacophony of thanks to the essential workers and first responders was under way.On a more personal level, I reminded myself of how, in moments of breakdown, we find ways to share our resources and provide mutual support. In my apartment, I found my plants watered by my neighbor, Kathleen. My currency in return support to her is, of course, eggs and farm fresh produce. I picked up mail for another friend and neighbor in both the City and up here, Susan, who on her previous trips has brought me my mail. And I know that when we deliver each other’s mail, we will also deliver food to one another: home baked bread on Susan’s part, farm produce on mine.These are small mutual generosities, but sometimes they can be much larger. Eric had told our mutual friend Paul how many hours he had spent mowing the lawn here with our small hand mower because the big old riding one was inoperable. Paul, a frequent farm visitor, was reminded that a neighbor, on moving away, had gifted him a well maintained riding mower that was sitting unused in his garage in Southold, New York, too big to use profitably in his yard. He offered to re-gift it in turn to me. A round trip in which Lillie was delivered to her home a few miles away from Paul’s house and the lawn mower was brought back seemed a no brainer.Paul, a scientist and a gentle, loving soul, has always been generous with his knowledge and his time. He has on his visits introduced me to hiking trails in this region I had no idea existed, taught me about local geological history, and helped dig the trenches to electrify the barn. His generosity clearly extends, in an almost extravagant way, into the material realm as well. The existence of that kind of generosity, in a time when it is easy to worry about a breakdown of the social compact, does more to ease my anxieties about the future than, say, a classic episode of Sex and the City. Though that too, I must say, evokes bright thoughts about a New York that will soon again live up to its fun past.
Tiny hot matchbox peppers, $5.00 a string, dried and quite decorative.
Fresh dug horseradish root, $3/lb.
Sorrel, one gallon bag, $3/bag
Mint, $1/ bunch
Garlic chives (the flat kind), $1/bunch
Coriander, $1/bunch
Dill, $1/bunch
Rhubarb $5/lb
EGGS: $5/doz, $3/doz (fun size)MEATS: We keep some on hand, but it helps to order ahead in case we need to retrieve from our stash in the big commercial freezer. See below.ROASTING CHICKENS – Nice fat Freedom Rangers are now sold outLAMB: a few remaining small loin chops, $14/lb., leg of lamb $14/lb, lamb shoulder roast $7/lb.PORK: Loin pork chops, $12/lb (2 to a pack, btwn 1 and 1.5 lbs),
fresh ham roasts (2 to 3 lbs), $12/lb
smoked bacon, $12/lb
FARM PICKUPS:Email us your order at, and let us know when you’d like to pick up your order. It will be put out for you on the side screened porch of the farmhouse (110 Lasher Ave., Germantown) in a bag. You can leave cash or a check in the now famous pineapple on the porch table. Regular pickup times are Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., other days by arrangement. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call at 518-537-3815 or email.


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