For a bunch of city boys, we sure do love our time in the country. The fresh air, the foliage, the freedom – it’s nature at its most honest.
And what about the food?! We often go out of our way to hit local restaurants and farms to fill our bellies when we’re on the road. It just seems natural to eat local.
Rural folks have a connection with their food unlike those of us locked into the grid of urban life. There’s something about growing up alongside your food that forges a respect for the whole process, from plow to produce. When a community supports its farms, those farms in turn support the community. It’s an elegant model of self-sufficiency.
This Fall we decided to act on our love for good, honest food and the farmers who work so hard to grow it by booking a two-week farm tour in celebration of the harvest season. We are blessed to know some farmers in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and through their contacts we were able to arrange shows on farms in VA, WV and PA. The idea was met with great enthusiasm (as it turns out, farmers love to throw a good barn party), and things came together quite easily.
Many of the farms we worked with were already accustomed to hosting community gatherings, so adding our music to the mix was a no-brainer. At every stop along the way, folks came from all over, old and young alike, bringing homemade dishes ranging from spicy wild game sausage to beet brownies. The barns ranged in size from the expansive to the cozy, yet one of the coziest performances of the run occurred late night in the chilly Virginia mountain air by a dwindling bonfire.
From barns to bonfires, our tour seemed like one highlight after another with surprises around every corner. At the Dickinson Farm in Boiling Springs, PA we were awed by the ingenuity of the solar-powered cart and veggie wash set-up. The Glasscocks of Berkeley Springs, WV wowed our tastebuds with a wide array of the most amazing tomatoes we’ve ever encountered. In Phoenixville, PA, we were surrounded by family and friends (and more than a couple barefoot kids hanging from the rafters!), all singing along with us, filling that Charlestown barn with spine-tingling harmony.
Every farm, like every community, displayed a unique profile. That’s the country way, we found. You live with the land, not just on it. Each farm we visited on our tour exhibited this, yet no matter how differently the individual farmers might approach their fields, there was one constant: connecting real people with real food. Again, nature at its most honest. Shaking the hand of the man who grew the food you’re buying is an incredibly affirming experience.
All in all, it boils down to this: the honest work of honest folks produces honest results and strengthens the integrity of the community, but it’s no easy path. But then, what of worth is? And at the end of a long season (whether that be growing or touring), it sure feels good to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished with the ones you love, the ones that depend on you and the ones on whom you depend. We were honored to share our music with each of these communities in their time of celebration, and we look forward to the next time we can get out that way.
This post was submitted by Sean Hoots.