Days of Work, Rest and Liberation

We’ve just recognized three important milestones: Liberation Day on April 25th, International Workers Day on May 1st, and  the official beginning of a “Phase 2” easing of nationwide lockdown in Italy this last Monday.  After two months of shelter in place orders, the days have started to blend together for us. Even though Quaker tradition urges us to treat every day as special, at whatever point in quarantine you might be, these holidays offered us some food for thought.

In Italy, April 25th, 1945 was the day that partisans proclaimed the start of an insurgency against the crumbling fascist regime. Within a few weeks, Mussolini was dead and partisans met Allied forces moving North in liberated cities.  Activists and still surviving partisans have honored and expanded the meaning of the day in recent years as a warning against the newly rising far right, while the majority of the population consider April 25th just another day off. After weeks of “days off” from the norm, however, bubbling frustrations about government handling of the COVID-19 crisis, desperation around economic depression, and frankly a good deal of fear mongering rallied Italians around competing ideas of “Liberty.” For example, a local official suggested elderly partisans should be allowed to gather together to mark the day so they could catch the virus and die.  We see similar rancor playing out around the world, even without a holiday to mark it.  We challenge our readers to recognize that fascism (new and old), capitalism, and apathy are clearly more tangible risks to our liberty in these times than conspiracies, political platitudes and stay-at-home orders.

While the US is one of the few countries to successfully separate Labor Day from its radical roots on May Day, we still feel the importance of honoring all workers at this time.  As we ourselves struggle with tens of thousands of euros in losses to our new business right now, we still feel very lucky compared to all those who don’t have healthcare, who lack basic protection, and who are either forced to work or are cast aside in these times. We believe that empty “hero-worship” of undervalued workers is adding insult to injury, and instead have focused our energy on setting up work exchanges, distributing donated food and growing our community network around this important celebration. Solidarity, as we’ve mentioned many times before, is the real antidote much much of what ails us as a society and a species today.

A swarm we caught now needing a new home.

Finally, as of this week, we are technically now able to visit relatives or buy stuff in more stores around Italy.  But life is still anything but normal.  Some have spoken about this pandemic as an opportunity to “reset,” reconsider our values and rebuild.  But breathe a sigh of relief?  Hardly. How can we build in an experience of “sabbath” when the days look so much like each other? Even if inner peace is still elusive, I take my solace these days in the spring blooming around us. I’ve been learning more about beekeeping and watching the bees swarm and bustle around the blossoming acacia. Federica has invented a flurry of new recipes (including our featured focaccia) with foraged flowers, herbs and produce from around the farm, even contributing some fresh foraged greens to a local “crowdsourced CSA.” And our boys have continued, despite missing friends and routine, to build forts, observe insects and engage in creative flights of imagination around the farm. Our new normal looks similar to before, but we still have a ways to go before resting with a sense of having “arrived.” The days before us are unclear, but we continue on.

We recognize that many of you may be hurting as a result of this pandemic, but if you are in a position to support us in this difficult time we would really appreciate it. Consider supporting us with an ongoing small donation to pay it forward and be closer to our work in the days and months ahead while we can’t host you in person.  We’ve been really encouraged by the folks who’ve already offered us reoccurring donations of either $25 or $50 dollars a month, so now we’re offering the following small goodies to new donors:

If you sign up today to donate $5 a month to support our work, we’ll send you a handmade wooden logo backed with a strong magnet or a key-chain! These were made by Bori, a talented intern staying with us and helping out a lot on the farm rather than waiting out quarantine in her home in Budapest.This support adds up to an annual total of the cost of two farm-sourced meals and a night’s stay with us.

The first 5 people signing up to donate $15 a month will receive one of our unisex organic, fair-trade cotton T-shirts in a size of your choice. This support adds up over a year to the equivalent of a weekend workshop on nutritional health or applied permaculture.

Those offering $25 or more a month will get a magnet, T-shirt and are invited to join us for a free week’s stay at our farm each year… consider it a kind of timeshare! This represents the cost of a healthy hive of bees and the supplies needed to gather and bottle their honey over the year.

Our post office has just opened back up, so you’ll need to hang in there with us a bit to get these goodies to you. We thank you in advance for all your support and well wishes, monetary or otherwise, that you are sending until we meet again! In the mean time, we hope that each of you are finding moments of rest, solidarity and freedom of the mind and heart in these challenging times.