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"Rafters of Garlic and Puppets" by Beth Weick, as published by North Country News, October 2010

Another summer has quickly passed at D Acres Organic Farm & Educational Homestead in a blur of expanded gardens, prolific vegetables, pond construction, twelve new piglets, nine young ducklings, a community river clean-up event, a host of camp groups and community volunteers, a Local Food Guide Launch, Beehive Collective presentation, and continuation of our Permaculture through the Seasons course.

With autmun upon us, we are quickly bringing our colorful harvest – a bounty of potatoes, squash, carrots, beets, turnips, and cabbage – into our root cellar. The last treats of summer – tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, apples, grapes – are preserved on shelves, while our array of brassicas are testing themselves against the dropping temperatures. The tasks of weeding, mulching, and sheet mulching are filling our days as we race against ourselves to finish before the snow flies.

The top floor of our barn, used to dry herbs during the hottest months, is emptying out as the cool weather and short days descend. It is a unique place, filled with antique farming tools, larger-than-life papier mache puppets, second-hand skis, dishware, & old clothes. And, for much of August and September, garlic.

Yes, garlic. Tied in bunches with baling twine, strands upon strands of garlic heads were hung in three tiers across the top-floor room. The highest strands required an 8'ladder, the bottom willing knees and lots of crawling. Warm days and the passage of time dried it well, and the dedication of many hands over many hours have accounted for the roots being trimmed, the stalks cut off, and the heads sorted by size and quality.

This season's cloves passed through the hands of a summer leadership camp group, a high school service class, international travelers, local volunteers, and of course, your usual D Acres folks. Our garlic heads have heard talk of the next school dance, plans for dinner, hopes for a nap, demands for lunch, Guatemalan massacres, Angolan politics, city trends, art museums, post-colonial religiosity, and plenty more to fill in the spectrum. World peace has yet to be achieved, and the meaning of everything is not quite answered once and for all…but then again, we do have next year's garlic to figure out the big questions.

In the meantime, we have scores upon scores of pounds of garlic on our hands: some for planting, some for eatin', some for selling. By Columbus Day we'll have planted clove after clove into the ground in preparation for early spring growth. Through the winter, though, it will be our task to eat, share, and sell the rest of this year's bounty. Which is significant. To buy ourselves some time, we'll store it in sacks hidden in the dark corners of bedroom closets – warding off vampires is an accidental attribute to our indoor accommodations. Garlic is a natural flavoring, aeoli is a favorite spread; mashed cloves serve as a poultice and garlic tea as a remedy for whatever ails us. Garlic with your eggs, garlic with your greens, garlic with your squash, garlic with your potatoes, garlic with your soup, garlic with your pizza, garlic with your meat, garlic with your bread, garlic garlic garlic.

Please, come on over and lend us a hand…or more appropriately, your appetite.

Beth Weick lives and works at D Acres Organic Farm & Educational Homestead, a non-profit service organization. She first came to the farm in April 2008 as an intern, and now focuses her work on gardening, tending to the animals, and writing. Learn more about the programs at D Acres by visiting www.dacres.org.

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