Early in August we were blessed to hold Plainsong Farm’s first community wheat harvest, thanks to Honoré Growers Guild who brought this program to our farm. Participant Lisa Hrit wrote a reflection for her church newsletter which she gave us permission to print also. Lisa is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Flint which will receive flour from this harvest. – NLP
Bringing In the Sheaves
There was much rejoicing as 45 people, representing several denominations and spanning over 70 years of age and 2000 miles, participated in the first Heirloom Wheat Harvest at Plainsong Farm in Rockford, Michigan on August 4, 2018.
The wheat that was harvested was Turkey Red variety and had been sown by hand last September 2017 for the purpose of providing flour for communion bread.
The harvest began at 9am with the Blessing of the First Fruits of the Harvest. (Deuteronomy 26:1-11 and Leviticus 23: 9-11) About 10 of us, one person from each church or ministry represented, made a first cutting of the wheat with a hand-held sickle and Rev. Nurya Love Parish spoke a blessing over these First Fruits.
These stalks of Turkey Red Wheat were then bundled with ribbon to be taken back to the churches as the offering of the First Fruits of the Harvest. St. Paul’s bundle was on its altar August 12!
For many of us at the harvest, this ceremony was the beginning of what unfolded to be a very sacramental day—experiencing the presence of the Triune God in the people, actions and objects around us. This “sacramental principle” is defined as “the idea that ordinary things can disclose the presence and action of God.” (John Pritchard, Pilgrim: A Course for the Christian Journey; The Eucharist. Church House Publishing, 2014, p. 51) Christians see this sacramental principle lived out in Jesus, as He is the outward and visible sign of God’s presence in the world. The Eucharist also reveals this sacramental principle as we receive Jesus in the bread and wine.
As the full harvest commenced, some folks worked their way through the 1/8th acre field cutting handfuls of wheat stalks with a hand-held sickle, stacking these in piles to be bundled and tied by another group of folks who laid the bundles on large tarps.
Full tarps were carried over to the winnowing/threshing area where the grain heads were cut off (winnowed) and these heads were then put through the wooden hand-cranked thresher, separating the chaff from the wheat berries. What a process!!
Throughout the day a group of 4 musicians played instruments and sang beautiful hymns and other songs of praise, some folks joining in the singing as they worked, offering “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…to the Lord…” (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16)
The joy of the Lord, the communion of saints, and an appreciation of the Lord’s provision and blessing were tangible in the voices lifted in praise and exchanged in conversation, in the unity with which everyone worked, and in the handling of the wheat, knowing it would soon be made into communion bread to be served on altars across Michigan and across denominations, further unifying the Body of Christ.
At the end of the scheduled workday, a corner of the field was left unharvested and no gleaning had been done. Ironically and perhaps Spirit-led, this was in accordance with Leviticus 23:22!! Lunch was served at 1pm and around each picnic table we all shared how the day had been important to us. Harvesters were officially dismissed by 2pm. Several of us stayed to complete the winnowing/threshing process, bag the wheat berries and clean up.
The total yield was 125 pounds of wheat berries! These berries will be sent to a local mill for further cleaning and milling into flour for communion bread baking all over the state of Michigan!
From the youngest to the oldest there was a job for everyone at this first wheat harvest at Plainsong Farm. The only expectation that I sensed was the willingness to be present in the moment and move through the day in community–true koinonia, the Body of Christ in communion with each other and with the Triune God.
Early September update:
Our wheat was delivered to the miller a week after harvest, but our test results are not complete.
We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
And now… the process begins again!
Join us for Heirloom Wheat Planting 2018 on Saturday, September 29th.
The planted wheat will overwinter and be a sign of resurrection come Spring.
After harvest, it will also be available for churches for communion bread.
All ages welcome.