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The Crop Report Week 28 | Follow Us to the Flower Fields

It’s the week leading up to our Open Farm event and the farm is buzzing with activity. Many projects are being completed or squeezed in so we can present the best of the farm to our community. As I walk around checking tasks, my mind goes back to childhood and the work we did as a family for our annual pig roast.


As kids, our grandmother would host a huge community cookout at the farm. The entire neighborhood brought food and we spent the evening laughing, dancing, and enjoying each other’s company. Family would come from out of town for the party, and it was one of my favorite memories of childhood summers. Grandma would spend a week cleaning the house, having us kids pick up the yard, and then make signs with poster boards and Crayola markers. There would be signs for parking, food, and where to dance versus play basketball (the driveway saw a lot of action). I remember my mom and aunts discussing what covered dish they were going to bring and my dad and uncles making sure the smoker was clean so they could make the best pig roast you've ever tasted. It was a family-run community affair that is still talked about fondly when reminiscing with folks. Even though Grandma's cookout was attended by close friends and family (about 200 of them) and ours is open to the general public, the feeling is the same.


Grandma was always good about making sure the kids were taken care of. She would dig in her closet to find her badminton set and volleyball, and she recognized my talents by having me create floral centerpieces. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree because when planning the Open Farm event, including the little ones was a top priority. From flower crafts and tie-dye to sprinkler Olympics and face painting, we aim to show everyone a better life through flowers, especially kids.


Aunt Tama, Uncle Daniel, and Dad have taken charge of parking and are perfect for the job because they used to be Grandma’s traffic A-team. Dad has drawn about 50 blueprints of the parking lot and traffic flow, while Aunt Tama and Uncle Daniel have been planning the mowing of the lot to make sure each blade is the perfect height. They will be stationed at a tent directing car flow, handing out the property map, and greeting everyone as they arrive, just like they did in Grandma's driveway.


Grandma always found a way to sit right at the front of the food lineup. In hindsight, I think this was a strategic move. You had to pass by Grandma to get your plate and silverware, which led to thank-yous and praise. She worked hard and loved hearing appreciation from the community she did it for. I'm taking a page right out of Grandma's book and having mom hangout by our FedEx house. Getting the grant this year has been HUGE for us and we are excited to tell everyone about what it can do. Mom will be sharing how this single project will allow us to ship flowers from the farm in the winter months! And thanks to FedEx, we will also have drawings for prizes during the tours when you stop by!


The food was always raved about for weeks following our family cookout. Picture a church cookbook come to life, hay wagons of covered dishes, and a sea of Pyrex. You knew you were going to eat too much but it was worth it, despite the consequences. While we won’t be offering the wagon feast from our childhood, we want to make sure your tummies are as full as your hearts when you leave so we are excited to welcome Simply Farm 2 Table for picnic-style fare! The really special part is that the owner, Katie, is our cousin and was a regular at Grandma's cookouts! 


Another memory from our childhood gathering is that as the sun went down, a small group of adults found their way to the backside of the barn for an alcoholic refreshment. It was never anything crazy because Grandma's property was strictly dry, so this always caused a snicker once I discovered what was happening. Since then, us gals have developed an appreciation for the social enjoyment of adult beverages. So we called our neighbors at Barren Ridge Vineyard and are excited to offer their amazing wines in The Gathering Garden. 


Music and entertainment were also important to Grandma and a close second to the food. My great uncle? (our family tree is big and confusing so I'm going with uncle) would sing with his gospel quartet band in front of the garage doors with the audience spread out on the driveway. We twirled and danced and sometimes Grandma even let us kids get behind the mic. Since we know our limitations as vocal artists, we will be welcoming Brent Hull to perform at our event! Steph and I went to Fort Defiance High School where Coach Hull taught and think it’s great to have a community member in this different stage of life!


The other half of the entertainment at Grandma’s pig roast was Steph and me. Our sisterly banter amused the Briery Branch community long before the inception of Instagram. The light-heartedness and love that you see on our social media is how we have always lived life as a family. So while Steph and I have our formal responsibilities on Saturday, we have found some fun ways to weave our lives into the event. You will see things featured in Live From the Cooler (including John Cena), references to our history, and bits of iconic HHF humor. The goal is to give you a sense of our everyday lives on the farm.


Grandma was a farmer, not an artist, but she still helped cultivate that part of me. She made sure my Aunt Lin spent time with me crafting dried florals and put me in charge of decorations. It gave me purpose and put my gifts to work for the family. I picked up a paintbrush again for the first time in a long time and made some really fun photo boards for our event. We have created lots of opportunities like this using our unique strengths. Dad is good at woodworking so he built frames and Harleigh has been a master with hot glue and cardboard. Our team is made up of many other talents and each one is so important for the experience we want Saturday to be. It's amazing how empowered everyone is when their skills are showcased and valued!


This week is the final push in our marathon up to the Open Farm and we have put in hard work to bring you the very best. As I think back to those childhood pig roasts, I hope the years of family community events ring through as you follow us to the flower fields this Saturday, July 17th!

xoxo, Jess

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