As the fall days blossomed into color, we began turning under the former Random Harvest garden space. For years this soil has been carefully tended by the former owners, Chris and Paul Hanafin, and so it is with honor which we continue its care.
Weeds were uprooted, mulch spread, garlic planted, and the signs of newly emerging clover seed found. A group of five of us brainstormed the possibilities for the space next spring.
We anticipate both perennials and annuals grown for community dinners (open meals hosted by Random Harvest) will be the first year’s primary purpose. Decisions on the land have roots in regenerative agriculture, the concept that the interconnected work of building soil health through organic methods creates a positive cycle effecting the local environment and surrounding community of people.
Beneath this soil, there also is a layer of history which predates the current vibrant and vast agricultural community we belong to in Columbia County. A portion of the history of indigenous people who’ve lived on this land before Europeans arrived was home to the Mohican, Munsee, and Lenape tribes.
The Mohicans (or Mahicans) lived in the northern valley, the area from approximately present-day Kingston up to Lake Champlain, west to the Schoharie Valley, and east into Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. The Lenape (sometimes Lenni-Lenapi, meaning, roughly, “the real or original people”) first populated the Delaware River Valley, particularly around Minisink (“the place where stones are”) where New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania meet. They are also called Delaware Indians, and the nation eventually comprised clans that lived in an area they called the Lenapehoking, their territory in what is now Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Eastern Delaware, and the Lower Hudson Valley. The northeastern clans who moved into our region spoke a Lenape dialect known as Munsee, and are thus also known as the Munsee Indians. It was the Munsee who were waiting on shore when Verrazano “discovered” his narrows in 1524 and when Hudson “discovered” the river in 1609. –Hudson Valley Magazine
We acknowledge the contradictory nature of being on land formerly home to the Mohican, Munsee, and Lenape tribes, (some of which are now living in North-Central Wisconsin) and are grappling with how to navigate that contradiction as we begin to build a relationship with this land and place. We also recognize the current day struggle of native folks in this region and seek to build relationships of solidarity with them as we move forward.
As we begin to understand the history of the land and lay the soil to sleep for the winter, the interior of Random Harvest is in the new stages of rebirth. Currently, when standing on the first floor, one can see through all three levels of the building- from the basement’s cold, rocky foundation through 100 years of cacophonous flooring and paint chips, all the way up into the rafters of the second floor. The building bares all of its history now and the soil her own, both to be revealed.