Monday, March 30, 2020

Meet Debra who works on Saturdays starting again in Strawberry season...


Debra Freeman
I come by way of the bridge over the Delaware River for my sixth season this year!  Born and raised in Summit, NJ, our family then moved to Bridgewater, NJ in my mid-teens.  I excelled in school, softball and enjoyed playing on the field hockey and basketball teams.  Upon graduation, I attended Temple University and eventually earned my BA in Communications.
I had a daughter at the age of 26 and raised her as a single mother.  Her name is Brittany Rae and wildly enough is 26 herself now.  Where does the time go?  She now lives and thrives in California.
So, how did I get here?  Over six years ago I had a thought that I wanted to start a farm of my own.  Not working at the time I was in touch with career coach who lived in the Bucks county area.  She had some strawberries and asked me if I’d like one.  They looked amazing, so of course I said yes.  It was juicy, sweet and melted in my mouth!  I wanted more!  As we got to talking about my job search I told her about my farming aspirations.  That’s when she shared with me that Amy was looking for some help.  Once we were done with my appointment, I jumped in my car and made my way to Manoff Market Gardens to meet with Amy.  She took me on a walk to see the scope of the farm.  I remember that I was wearing a pair of sandals and could feel the energy of the farm surging into the soles of my feet.  Right then and there I knew I wanted to be a part of this magical place.  Oh, and about having a farm of my own, I’ve been cured of that notion.
I am constantly in awe of the love and care that the Manoff family puts into their diverse products and the cidery is no exception.  I feel so honored to have watched that dream come to fruition in such a successful way! Amy and Gary have made me feel like part of their family here on the farm where I am able to enjoy real fruits and vegetables!  I am so spoiled that I don’t buy the fruits at the grocery stores in the off-seasons.
I got married last May to my wonderful husband John! We met at a company we both worked for over 10 years ago and though we weren’t anything other than friends, a love blossomed between us that we were finally able to recognize.   Amy and Gary were kind enough to take time away from the farm to party with us! And for that I am truly grateful, because I know how important their work is on a daily basis to provide us all with a little something sweet, tart, and always tasty.
On the Saturdays that I’m not here, I can be found hiking in the mountains of Essex County, NJ.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Our favorite volunteer...


MEET MIRIAM!  One active lady!

Hi!  I’m Miriam Krantz.  

Working at Manoff Market and Cidery on Fridays is one of my happiest times.  Why? 
Because I get to see my favorite son, Gary, daughter-in-law, Amy, and two grandchildren, Michael & Chelsea, and Chelsea’s husband, Maher. 
Surrounded by the natural beauty, I’ve watched their business grow from taking vegetables to the Doylestown Farmers’ Market on Saturdays to a store filled with delicious fruits, vegetables, beautifully arranged flowers and flavorful hard cider.
I get to see the intricacies of running a small business which, a year ago, added an additional business.  Amy is in charge of many departments: Accounting, Advertising, Customer Service, Gift Baskets, Human Resources, Marketing, Payroll, Production, Purchasing, Quality Control, Sales, Shipping, Tech Support, etc. Gary is also in charge of many departments:  Buildings, Cider Production, Equipment Maintenance, Harvesting, Procurement, Planting, Product Quality Control, Pruning, Research, Staffing, Weather Monitoring, etc.
I am just in awe of their individual and combined strengths!!!

Now about me.  I was born in Buffalo NY and have lived in Bucks County since the early 1970s. First in Buckingham, then New Hope, then Warrington and, last year, I moved to Pine Run in Doylestown.  My first husband, Mike, was the father of my three children, Linda, Gary, and Michelle. I remarried to a wonderful man, Joe, who sadly died from Leukemia in 2006. I have been blessed with a wonderful family.  In addition to my children, I have two sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, five step children, nine grandchildren, five grandchildren-in law, four step grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. I have a BA degree in Mathematics from the University of Delaware and worked at Educational Testing Service in their IT department for 23 years.  I retired in 1999. I also volunteer at Doylestown Hospital, currently at the Outpatient MRI and formerly at the Gift Shop and also at the Outpatient Infusion Center. When I lived in Legacy Oaks, I was active in the community as a committee chair and board member. I am currently getting involved in some Pine Run activities.

Now back to the farm where I work on various projects which are assigned as needed. However my most important and rewarding job is providing excellent customer service.  I especially enjoy watching children with peach juice dripping down their faces as they go out to play on the swings. I enjoy sharing customers’ happy news of a marriage or new child and just listening when a customer wants to share one of life’s sadder moments.  Mostly, just being in a place surrounded by so much of nature’s beauty makes me happy.
.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Who's working on the farm? Let's get to know those people behind the counter....


Meet Patty… a local “lifer”, born and raised just a mile down the road. 
"I started my journey here in New Hope, married, moved, lived & worked in other countries with my husband, Brian and our 4 children; I’m now back in my ‘homeland’.   I grew up in a hardworking, middle class family, under the premise, ‘you don’t work… you don’t eat.’  Our family is accustomed to work with our hands.   At the age of 13 my parents helped me start my own pachysandra farm.  Taking what God already had given us, we learned how to multiply it and provide for my need of a college education and beyond.  That was 45 years ago and it’s still going.  When the need arose for me to work outside the home (once our last child was high school age) I looked around for part time work.  I wanted it to be meaningful, where I could interact with people, and yet be flexible.  At Manoff Market Gardens I found all three.   The beauty of the surroundings, the blessing of being with hardworking people, and the amazing quality food they grow and sell makes for that winning combination.  We were born into a world that needs tending, and I am thankful I can do my part in this corner of the world!  Stop on by and see what I mean!”


Meet Katie & Family

“Hi, my name is Katie and I have worked at Manoff’s for six years.  My hobbies include reading, baking, gardening and knitting.  I grew up in Titusville, went to school in Virginia, worked abroad and then landed in Bucks County.  A decade ago when I was working at Farley’s Bookshop I met my future husband Buffy.  He is the baker behind Freedom Creek Bread which you can find at the farm freshly baked in a wood-fired brick oven.  We interned together at an organic CSA where we began our journey into farming and agriculture.  Then I worked at Milk House Farm Market where I gained experience in the market and customer service aspect of farming.  After bouncing around a little bit more I found a home at Manoff’s where I am lucky to eat the best fruit I have ever tasted.  My daughter Paige has also been working with me at the farm since she was a baby.  She is in charge of quality control so you can find her tasting all the fruits.  Amy and Gary are talented, knowledgeable, generous and flexible.  I am grateful to work at such a wonderful place where I am constantly learning, interacting with good people and surrounded by nature’s beauty and bounty.  What’s not to love?

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ancient brew

Having established the Hard Cidery, a monumental effort in paperwork, new processes and products, the desire to hibernate is tempting. We all feel it, regardless of our work schedule, the days that don’t end though dark arrives, and the temperamental grinding through until we feel awoken to the first streaks of spring. The time to reflect on this past year is upon us; and to project our intentions and goals upon this impressionable New Year. In the beginning we capitalize New Year, something special, The New Year! A personal noun embodied in hopeful form, that melts in importance as the summer sun tilts in our favor again. 
The store and cidery remain open. There are still barrels of hard cider to bottle, fresh cider to press, paperwork to log and organize and file, fruit tree pruning, and plans to be made for this coming years logistics and crops. The annual tea party and winter pruning classes are some events customers can expect to look forward to. Purely for educational purposes, my parents, have taken tender leave of absence as they fly to California for CiderCon, a plethora of knowledgeable agribusinesses, hobbyists, and educators in their field fermenting together in ripe confluence.

My husband and I attended the local Fruit Wine Production workshop hosted by the PA Ag Extension. The speaker was a fruit wine consultant who does huge trading with asian countries and has worked all over the world. He joked that here in the U.S. people have a problem with sulfites, when really sulfites have been used in wine making since Roman times, and their headaches probably have more to do with the alcohol than anything else. A tasty tidbit, amylase is an enzyme he mentioned, processed and sold by labs for the purpose of making fruit cider. We don't use it, but it caught my attention because this is an ancient process. Amylase is an enzyme found in human saliva, some tribes of ancient South America would chew corn to make chicha an alcoholic beverage and spit it back out to help with the fermentation process! Sometimes modern science pulls from indigenous knowledge and I have to tip my hat off. When it came to the tasting portion of the seminar there were 8 fruit wines to sample. Unfortunately, they were all horrific. Overly sweet and I suspect contained some of the additives he had been talking about such as arabic gum or casein to give them a ‘better bodied mouth feel’ the latter of which I am allergic to. I had a rough car ride home having only sipped a few, nauseous with a horrible headache. The message from this experience? I am sticking with the principle make what you like to drink! There is a huge market for these ‘dessert’ wines but more importantly for us, is the pride in making something that we enjoy drinking. You will not satisfy your sweet tooth in our hard cider. You will find a variety of dry balanced ones, and some blended semi-sweet that carry the nose of our infused berries. We are drawing from the traditions of Basque, English, and French, and American ciders. Johnny Appleseed wasn’t spreading seed, he was grafting hard cider varieties to claim territory for colonial homesteaders at a time when hard cider was a form of payment for the average laborer. By both being a part of the process of making our cider and selling it I get to see how customers respond directly. What I’ve found is that most people don’t really know what it is we are crafting. 

Some top questions asked in the cidery are:

“What is hard cider?” Take fresh cider, ferment it by adding a desired yeast strain or allowing to naturally ferment with wild yeast. We take this process a step further by adding an aging process in oak and other types of barrels to lend more character to the cider. And fermentation is when the yeast eat the natural sugars in the juice and produce alcohol as a byproduct. Yes our enjoyment takes a host of microfauna.  
“What apples do you use?” Right now we are using apples we already grow for the market. Mostly the baking varieties such as Goldrush, Winesap, Stayman, but we use a blend of apples as a base for our berry infused hard ciders as well as our go-to Comfort. We have hard cider specific varieties planted but we are waiting for the trees to grow and produce enough for production. New Hard Cider Orchard below.



How long does the cider process take?” Up to 1 year. Pressing begins with the apple harvest. Depending upon which variety or blend we are making, the harvest occurs between September and November, but many varieties keep in the cooler so we have the option to press throughout the winter. After pressing, comes fermenting; this can take 4-6 months, followed by our aging process usually 4-6 months. 
What foods pair well with hard cider? Cheese! No surprise there. We offer a cheese and apple tray at the cidery which is a classic pairing. Cider can bring a freshness, a light touch to a meal, with a lower alcohol content than wine, moving from cider to wine before and during a meal allows versatility. I would recommend Winesap or Comfort for pairings with fish or chicken, Comfort with a Twist, and our 2-year aged Twisted Comfort are strong enough to pair with meat and would add a caramel richness to any dinner or dessert. But really, your preference is important, go with what you like! One of the benefits to this being a new industry is that some of the snobbery, I mean knowledge and tradition of wine making hasn’t made its way into hard cider yet. It really feels like the wild west in the sense that the possibilities are open. We started with hard cider that we like to drink, but in expanding to semi-sweet and infusing our berries we stumbled upon some ciders blackberry, blueberry, sour cherry, we would like to keep in the mix. Hard cider doesn’t please everyone’s palate, but for most it’s a nice option to have in rotation or if you’re like us, it becomes part of the ritual of sharing a meal around the table with family and friends.
The Cidery below, a new spot to gather and share a drink during open hours. 

Honestly I’ve never been asked this, but what makes our hard cider special? 
My husband recently came up with our slogan if we ever have one for the cidery...he was musing over this bottle of Hopped Goldrush and said, “You know, when I drink this, I’m not just drinking cider, I’m drinking a bit of your parents, it’s like their effort and energy shine through in the cider.” Crafting something that we like to drink from ingredients that we’ve grown; this is the future, a new year to savor and a new year to drink to. Cheers!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Where are the bananas at?



          As customers run home to bake their first quart of peaches and end up dismayed as the pulp squishes and every twist of the wrist to separate the pit brings them farther from a beautifully textured slice; it’s no surprise to us. Education is actually a big part of the retail experience at a farmers market. Every crop, even certain varieties have their schpiel and this too varies. We throw a lot of information at people and it’s certainly hard to keep track of it all. Currently, these early July peaches stick to the pit. These newer varieties have been cultivated to bear fruit earlier and in our opinion, they’re only use is for eating over the kitchen sink! Delicious, small, a sneak-peak taste of summer yet to come. We recommend waiting to bake, can, jam peaches until Late August/Early September. YES, those late varieties are the best for these purposes.

         The convenience of a grocery store and ability to sample produce from all over the world means that I’m no hater when it comes to supplementing for what’s in season. There are arguments for and against grocery store produce; what is more relevant to keep on our radar, is the knowledge of seasonality. There’s certainly a trend where people are starting to ask more about seasonality, when crops grow in our climate and at what time of the year, but the cultural relevance fades as we become more reliant upon grocery store chains. And yet, aren’t we the lucky ones, to have that choice?

          I still remember, we had a group of inner-city school kids come to the farm for a school trip and one boy asked where were the bananas? Our educational system and the inequalities of funding is something we don’t see and experience in the suburbs on the level that inner-city schools face every day. I was able to take a course for my masters on sustainable food systems at Temple University in which the curriculum focused on food justice for inner-city neighborhoods. Historically, crowded living conditions have always been a problem, but when there were jobs and an influx of new immigrants, they created local markets where fresh food and homemade products were bought and sold. A living reminder of this is the small square block on 9th street in Philadelphia home to a few generational Italian markets. The switch to industrialization in our food system began the systematized inequality surrounding food because grocery stores only opened in areas with wealth, or the space to build. In the city, locals in poorer neighborhoods are left with gas stations or bodegas (small stores that carry food items like a wawa, but charge more for the convenience). Why not drive? Well, if you don’t have a car, which in the city is a luxury, then you have to take a bus. If you work full time, and have kids, the extra time, effort, and expense of catching a bus to grocery and back with all your bags may take its toll. Many parents are going to go with McDonalds or some other fast food chain more often, if it’s easier, and seen as tastier than the food they can buy locally. Lack of access, leads to poor nutrition that contributes to health concerns like diabetes and high blood pressure, both preventable diseases.

           Some solutions for this range from top down approaches that have politicians raising taxes on soda (hopefully being redirected towards the following), and initiatives in public schools to increase the food options and exercise available at school. One local business Zone 7 is part of this initiative by contracting with schools to truck in fresh produce from farmers in the country. However, I see more bottom-up approaches changing the landscape of inner-city food deserts. Guerilla gardens are illegal because many city ordinances maintain strict non-agricultural activities in their zone planning. This is not always the case, some cities like Denver, Colorado are actively changing their zoning ordinances to promote sustainable urban farming and local businesses (cottage food act)(Denver policy ). In Philly, and other cities like Trenton, NJ there are communities taking over abandoned spaces and creating raised beds for produce despite the illegality. Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) that are not-for profit, are legally fighting for these endeavors, and funding spaces for communities to develop urban farms. Young entrepreneurs see an opportunity as well, to make a profit but also make a difference, by providing locals and restaurants with fresh produce. Urban farming is taking root and innovative technologies like utilizing roof spaces, hydroponic systems, and solar are growing in popularity. For that young boy who asked about bananas, he got an introduction to agriculture at our farm, we were a diversion; the hard work of helping him and kids like him needs to start in his neighborhood (Trenton story). For kids as well as adults, education but more importantly, access, is the key to believing in the power of sustainability, good nutrition and the pleasure of eating seasonal food (Fortune magazine).

              An introduction, a diversion, is not enough to change the food landscape. Kids everywhere should have an education about agricultural activities and the science of farming, but unless they get a chance to participate in growing something, or in helping their parents prepare fresh food, they’re not going to believe that this something they can participate in. How do we help the next generation connect to their food sources? How can they be predisposed to sustainability by understanding the building blocks of local versus global? Education, accessibility and participation by growing and tasting fresh food, has the power to regenerate a one sided food system and create politically minded individuals who will choose better options for themselves and their families.

              Here at the farm our brochure and website gives an outline of our seasonal fruit:

Late May/Early June: Strawberries
              We always have berries in the market before pick your own starts in the field. Varieties include, Chandler, Early-Glow, Late Glow, Rutgers, AC Valley, Cabot

Late June-July: Blueberries
              Several varieties allow for extended an extended season, both pick your own and in-market availability

Early July-Mid September: Peaches
              Early varieties include Rich May, Early Scarlet; mid season varieties include Glen Glo, Mountain Rose; Late Season varieties White Hale, J.H. Hale, Sentry, Lady Nancy and many more varieties in between! Nectarines are not always available because they are more sensitive lacking that peach fuzz protection and sustain greater damage from wasps, so call beforehand if that is on your list.

August: Blackberries
             Mainly a pick your own crop

*Many people have noticed by now that we are phasing out raspberries; weather variability and reduced tunnel space have made this crop a liability. Hopefully, in the future we will be able to reintroduce this fruit into our market.

Late August-November: Apples
              But did you know? Late season varieties, Pink Lady, Goldrush, Stayman, Winesap, Granny Smith, Fuji will remain in our store through March? These late season apples store well in our coolers once harvested; they remain fresh for this long because that is the property of these late season apples. Fall crops by nature and human selection, have storage capabilities, for example, potatoes, fall squash, onions, and apples. Our coolers that remain at 35 degrees F. are simply an updated version of a cellar, where root veggies and apples were traditionally kept through the winter months. Enjoy :)

For more information or to get involved with sustainable food systems in this area: Bucks County

FoodShed Alliance: http://www.bucksfoodshed.org/

Carversville Farm Foundation: https://www.carversvillefarm.org/

Fisherman’s Mark: https://fishermansmark.org/programs/food-pantry/
           They operate as a food pantry, educational center, and much more Penn State Agricultural

Extension: https://extension.psu.edu/bucks-county
           They have an office center in Doylestown/Warminster area that has educational summer classes for kids. Not to mention a great resource if you are a home gardener.

Weavers Way http://www.weaversway.coop/pages/weavers-way-ambler
          A co-op with several farms near Philadelphia that work with students to actively participate and learn farming skills. Also providing fresh produce to those neighborhoods.

There are many green and food justice initiatives, to find one nearby just search online to volunteer, share your skills, or come to learn. You can also make a difference by supporting for-profit farms in your area, the options are bountiful.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

We raised the price of strawberries this year. While we are fortunate as a farm to live in a wealthy area we try to keep a balance; for example, pick your own crops such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries give an equal opportunity to save some money for our customers and for us to give back to volunteer groups who pick their own and sell the produce for charity. We also participate in SNAP the government supplemental nutrition assistance program that subsidizes the cost for low-income families to purchase fruit and vegetables at farmers markets. Even as we raised the price of strawberries, it has been about a week and half before I have heard a question about our prices. The woman who I talked with on this busy Saturday is a regular and her question seemed more curious than critical. She asked, “You raised the prices from last year, are you having a bad year?” My tone even and nonchalant I replied, “So far so good, just trying to make a little profit.” Thinking back on my response, I don’t think I would have changed it, it somehow felt wrong to explain that no year, is a good year. I could have told her how the hail ripped through our farm just three days earlier, almost every piece of fruit, apple, peach, strawberry marred by the freak ice. If it heals and scars over, instead of dropping, much of our fruit harvest this summer and fall will be what we call special...a touch ugly but still delicious. The strawberry quart she held in her hand as we spoke, perky berries perfect and gleaming came from our high tunnels. These are actually a more expensive input compared to the field berries, but a guaranteed crop, shielded from the harshest weather, which we continually rely upon to bring in spring revenue after the winter drought.

We find ourselves caught on the precipice as a business, after thirty five years my parents have built up clientele that will come to us, known for the diversity of varieties and quality of the fruit, they have created a steady business. The question of wealth is an interesting one. We are wealthy in so much as we continue to work as hard as we can; we are wealthy in abundance of tasty fruit and lush work environment. We are wealthy in the customers who recognize the fruit that we produce is both environmentally sound and immensely delicious. One of the many moments that highlight this for me, was when a father and daughter came by the farm on a rainy Monday at the beginning of strawberry season. The father introduced himself but he lapsed into Ukrainian often, turning to his 7 year old daughter to translate. They had heard of us, that our berries tasted like the ones from home. Could he show his daughter how the berries grew? I gave them a tour, and slowly the daughter began to open up, more confident with her English she explained how she was in English school but still going to Ukrainian school on Saturdays. “That’s good,” I smiled, “Tradition is important, you should know both. How do you say thank you?” “Dyakuyo,” she beamed. My mood for the rest of that rainy, slow day remained lifted. How many other spaces can we create that welcome people the way that food and nature can? The ties that people have to food and culture are rooted in traditions, but the ability for those traditions to translate are numerous if we give them the space and encouragement. We are wealthy and it has nothing to do with our prices, the prices are our encouragement to continue to improve this business that has the potential to cross boundaries in our own small way.
-Chelsea

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

a room of one's own

“What does this place mean to you?” I asked him, elbow to elbow that chilly spring night.
“Mixed feelings,” he said, “I feel free when I’m here...What does it mean for you?”
Nodding, I said, “The same. The daylight is filled with complicated relationships that come from family, customers, from sharing a space with different people in a business way, but at night I feel the most connected to this space.” 

The stars bright, the curve of the night a brilliant arch above us, thinking about space, environment and a sense of place. In the dark, free from everyday responsibilities we wondered how a place can both free one from identity, and connect one to that space in time, that place of intangibility. Whether one owns the place or not, we humans find places to call our own. Maybe this is somewhat the spirituality of indigenous peoples. We don’t own the place, we make it our own, it informs our identity but in nature’s vastness we can submit to the sublime and our own smallness in the universe. 

“Everyone deserves their own place they can call their own,” my dear friend and neighbor interjected as I sat at her table on a high stool sipping tea, sharing with her news about my Palestinian boyfriend. She was culturally Jewish, raised reformed, and hosted a friendly brisket competition for Passover with my family. The fracturing of Jewish identity has many parts. Orthodox are conservatively religious but there are many different schisms within this branch. Zionists, are pro-Israel as a homeland for Jewish peoples, but not necessarily religious. Reformed, are mostly members of synagogues in Western countries that are open to new ways of practicing Jewish religion such as accepting women rabbis. And culturally Jewish, as am I, means having Jewish heritage within a mixed religious family but identifying less with a strictly Jewish identity, hipster Jews, my brother calls us.

My friend Ellen’s upfront decisiveness about such a complicated issue as Palestinian-Israeli politics made me laugh. This is the heart of what we fight over, a place and a space to call our own and pursue a life with dignity. Territory can have tactical advantages but we as humans give land conceptual weight. The places we call cradles of civilization happened because people found places in their environment that nurtured those monumental building blocks of civilization, access to fresh water leading to irrigation and fertile plains and agriculture. With climate change and other contributing factors such as war, disease, overpopulation, even just desire for change, leads to migrations in people and populations shift over time. But sometimes we choose to stay in places even when the elements are against us. Take Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina many people stalwartly returned home, rebuilding their communities. “This is our home,” they said. They have a place that carries cultural weight, that connects them to that space and environment, despite the risks.

Like those people from the Bayou, the cultural weight for other displaced peoples is intractably tied to their ancestral homeland. The Palestinian narrative has been undermined and erased at every political opportunity through forcible violence, blockades, walls, limiting permits, controlling water and resources, demolishing homes, and promoting a culture of fear and intolerance, because it is an inconvenient truth for any Jewish person who claims Israel as their homeland. Most Jews will agree that for the safety of our community Israel’s tactics are a necessity born from history and a result of antisemitism and genocide against our people. But I will tell you a story about my first trip to Israel. On a guided tour I mentioned to my brother, talking about Muslims in Israel, “Salaam, means peace. It’s an Abrahamic religion that can carry a message of tolerance and peace or destruction if manipulated by the wrong people, the same as any religion.” The ex-IDF tour guide overheard this and in an effort to control the narrative, brandished his finger in my face and said, “Muslims are all extremists, they only spread terrorism. They are like rats.” His reaction, put a suspicion in my young mind that all is not well with your narrative if you fail to see the humanity in people, even those people you claim as your enemy. This tactic of of dehumanization is used in every genocide to justify atrocities. It’s used as a political tool to make the masses fear anyone who challenges the status quo, even innocents who by religion, ethnicity, gender, sex, or class fail to homogenize with the mainstream. Politically, this is Israel’s best defense to eradicate any Palestinian heritage and to separate Jewish neighbors from non-Jewish Arabs, because if they had good working relationships and saw the other as human, they might want the same rights for them as we have for ourselves.

It’s funny, having married that Palestinian boyfriend, we’re both completely racist together. I’ll ask him where he parked his camel, and he’ll say did I hear the one about that Rabbi in a bar? But ultimately we’re stronger for it, and it brings me so much joy when he experiences some new freedom he’s never had the chance to do before, like surf, snowboard, travel unmolested in an airport, or feel free in a space he could call his own. I don’t mean to try and quantify his agency in the world, but I saw the double standard with my own eyes and heard enough friends sharing their stories to know that to be Palestinian, limits certain freedoms I take for granted. He has so much positivity and flexibility and being Palestinian is a point of pride but carries with it fresh hurt every day he looks at the news. Nature can challenge our perceptions of rightness, in fact the the school where we met in Israel was full of contradictions inherent in an occupied state, but their slogan is “Nature knows no borders.” It’s amazing to me every time I look up from the blinders in my life, and I see the farm in some new way. In this same vein do we choose to conquer our environment and the people in it, or do we choose to nurture both the people and the land we live with? 

-Chelsea Manoff