By Polly Hewitt
On August 4, almost 50 people – some traveling from as far as Flint and Detroit — gathered at Plainsong Farm in Rockford to hand-harvest heirloom wheat that was planted last September. The quarter-acre of wheat was cut with sickles, bundled, threshed and winnowed, using mostly manual labor. The harvest event combined prayer, Scripture, learning, live music, field work, spiritual reflection and ended with a farm-fresh meal. The night before the harvest, 20 people from across the state, met at St. Mark’s Church for a special workshop where they learned about wheat and flour, made communion bread and shared Holy Eucharist.
One of the participants summed up the entire experience by calling it “sacramental,” and saying, “By the end of the harvest, we had built a community.” The group included people from three denominations, all three lower Michigan Episcopal dioceses and every generation.
Plainsong Farm’s Turkey Red heirloom wheat will be stone milled and blended with other organically-grown Michigan heirloom wheat. Shares of the harvest are now available for baking healthy and flavorful communion bread.
The entire Plainsong wheat planting and harvest program was under the supervision of The Rev. Elizabeth DeRuff of St. Honore Farm & Mill in California, which is partnering with Plainsong Farm in a national movement to care for Creation by conserving water and other resources, improving soil health and reducing greenhouse gases. The goal of the Honore Growers Guild is to enable every altar to sustainably and intentionally source their communion bread or wafers. Western and Eastern Michigan are two of the five Episcopal dioceses currently participating in the Guild, up from just one three years ago.
If you missed the Harvest Weekend, consider joining the next Wheat Planting Day on Saturday, September 29. You can register online here. If you can’t come, learn more on Facebook or Instagram, where there are many photos from the weekend’s activities.