The Blessings of Good Land and Good People

Farm Market Report for August 16, 2016  Keith Helmuth

Every once in a while visitors to the Valley remind us of the great blessings of our good land.

Cousins from Holland recently visited Ramona Paul, Farm Market Manager. They had been on a research project in Brazil and had seen the way so much of the vast forestland has been clear cut and turned into huge plantations with nary a tree in site as far as the eye could see. The loss of forestland like this is one of the great man-made planetary disasters coming home to roost.

By contrast, Ramona’s cousins were enchanted with the beautiful mixed landscape of the St. John River Valley. The combination of open fields and dense woodland is truly a landscape of beauty and abundance. It pays to stop and notice it once in awhile. People from away help us do that.

Good land seems to grow up good people, people who know without thinking about what it means to be a community. There are plenty of good examples of this community mindfulness up and down the Valley. Sometimes a small one pops up and makes us realize again how this business of community works.

A few weeks ago the volunteers working on the Farm Market float for the Old Home Week Parade were wondering where to get a good-looking tractor to pull the trailer they were decorating. Roy McLellan said he knew where to get one. He promptly went out to Bayview Trucks and Equipment in Jacksonville. The good folks there said, “Sure, you can use this Kubota.” Many thanks from the Farm Market to Bayview.

This is not a big deal. Nobody thinks twice about it, but it’s those small acts of helpfulness and generosity multiplied over and over up and down the Valley in all kinds of situations that creates a distinct kind of culture, a culture to be proud of.


Good land also grows up good crops and you can now see them on display at the Woodstock Farm and Craft Market, especially on Friday, the traditional Market Day. Between the produce new being brought in by Matthew and Angie Culberson and Sunrise Farms from Bedell, this is what you will find: sweet corn, cabbage, onions, buttercup squash, chard, leeks, cucumbers (both slicing and pickling), peppers (both sweet and hot), string beans (both green and yellow), summer squash (both zucchini and yellow crookneck), beet greens (with baby beets), kale, carrots, dill, and tomatoes (good and ripe). Side shoots of broccoli are coming in and next week Matthew will have a good supply of cherry tomatoes.

Friday is also the day when home baking is at its peak in the Market, the Café is serving up lunch, and the sausage and burger barbeque under the canopy is in full swing. It’s the now the jelly, jam and pickle making season, so look for new supplies on shelves of the vendors who keep up these old traditions. Add those skills to what helps make a good community as well. Truly, we are blessed with the produce of good land and the products of good people.