Sowing the Future and Fall Colors!

17 Oct

The third annual Sowing the Future event took place Saturday, October 1st at Hawthorne Valley Farm.  This year, a Leaf close-upgroup of volunteers hand-sowed Young’s Field (off of Harlemville Road) with rye.  Meanwhile, as if overnight, the fall colors emerged brilliantly over the Columbus Day weekend at Hawthorne Valley.  Below you’ll find scenes from Sowing the Future, as well as some glimpses of fall colors on the  farm.

What’s it all about?  Sowing the Future…

Steffen welcoming people to Sowing the Future

Steffen, the Farm Manager at Hawthorne Valley, leads the way carrying buckets of grain to Young's Field (right) and welcomes sowers to the field as he shows them how to cast the grain (above).

By hand-sowing a field of grain each fall at the farm we are participating in a larger Sowing the Future movement that started in Switzerland in 2006 as a way to raise awareness about the issue of genetically modified crops while inviting people to reconnect with farms and community through the act of sowing seeds together.  In the last five years, Sowing the Future has spread well beyond that first farm in Switzerland, and is now taking place in more than 10 countries and involving thousands of people at around 100 different sowing events.  To learn more about this movement, you can check out the official Sowing the Future website, and look at other sowing events around the world:

After gathering to talk about the purpose and context of Sowing the Future, sowers head to the field (above). Below, the sowers fill their hats with grain. As one sower commented, how often, in this mechanized age, does one get to hold handfuls of grain?

Below are some pictures from this year’s Sowing the Future event at Hawthorne Valley Farm:

The red Sowing the Future hats and t-shirts you see in these pictures were provided by the Sowing the Future organization in Switzerland.


This year Hawthorne Valley planted 2 acres of rye and 4 acres of wheat – all designated for human consumption through the Hawthorne Valley bakery and store.  This represents a large expansion over last year’s acre or so of wheat!  Due to the wet conditions, the sowers only seeded rye, while the wheat and remaining rye was seeded by a drill a week or so later when better conditions prevailed.

Starting to sow the fieldSowing the field

Sowing the field

2011 Sowing the Future Group

2011 Sowing the Future Group at Hawthorne Valley


One of the aspects of grain that makes it so useful for food production, is that a single grain when sown can multiply many times over.  This year at Hawthorne Valley a total of 950 pounds of wheat and rye were sown, and we can hope for a harvest of as much as 26,000 pounds (or close to 2 tons/acre) next July, though anything over 1 ton/acre would be very acceptable.  So what does that mean in terms of the goal of supplying Hawthorne Valley flour to the Hawthorne Valley Bakery?  The bakery currently buys in around 60 tons of grain a year, which means that under the best of conditions (with yields of 2 tons/acre), Hawthorne Valley would need to have around 30 acres of grain land to meet that need.  Hawthorne Valley is hoping to continue to expand grain production in the coming years to around 10-15 acres, with hopes of ultimately growing 30-40 acres of grain to supply the grain needs of the bakery.  For more on growing grain at Hawthorne Valley, visit the Hawthorne Valley Farm website:

Rye shoots


The rye and wheat seeds that were sown are germinating right now.  As you can see above, little green shoots are starting to emerge, and within two weeks Young’s Field should be covered in green.  Feel free to visit Young’s Field (down County Route 21C off of Harlemville Road) to check it out.  Meanwhile the wheat that was sown last fall was harvested this past July (see below) and is now available in the bulk bin at the store.  It will also soon by featured in whole wheat muffins made by the bakery.

Harvesting Wheat

Harvesting wheat at Hawthorne Valley Farm, July, 2011


The fall colors came swiftly this past week, so Claudia and I set out to capture a few of the colors around the farm before they were gone.

Hawthorne Valley

The view from Indian Lookout on Phudd Hill

Virginia Creeper on a pasture fence post

Cow path

A colorful fringe to the cow path

West Hill

A rim of colors on West Hill. Note the prominent "browse line" where the trees meet the pasture.

1 Comment

Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Agriculture, Nature


One response to “Sowing the Future and Fall Colors!

  1. Linda B Horn

    October 18, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Love the blog!


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