Knoll Farm celebrates autumn every year with the Harvest and Courage Celebration, a day of storytelling, courage-making, dancing, art and local food, free and open to the whole community.

Green-collar jobs hero Brenda Palms-Barber will be the keynote speaker this year and will tell her story of her farm, Sweet Beginnings, or what she calls "bees in the hood," about the apiary she started in her urban Chicago neighborhood to provide former prisoners with jobs.

Now the farm produces a whole line of natural skin care products as well as honey and includes job training in business management as well as beekeeping. Barber is the recipient of many awards as a visionary business leader, among them a MacArthur Award for her leadership of her nonprofit jobs corps, a Roman Nomith fellowship from Harvard Business School and The Black Women's Expo's Phenomenal Woman Award for Community Service.

As is the tradition, Harvest and Courage will begin at 10 a.m. on October 10, as music and children lead a procession up the hill to Knoll Farm's high pasture, offering autumn views of the Mad River Valley. Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater will greet the parade, offering a celebration of traditional West African music and dance.

Burlington-based Jeh Kulu is comprised of 16 artists, who perform traditional rhythms and dances from the countries of Guinea, Senegal and Mali. In the Bambara language of Mali, "Jeh Kulu" means "community" and their music encourages audience participation.

At noon, a harvest lunch made from all-local produce will be served. Guests are asked to bring their own bowls, mugs and spoons with them to the event. 

At 1 p.m., Brenda Palms-Barber will speak on what it means to live with courage today, how we can cultivate courage in ourselves and in our community. 

Throughout the day will be other activities to join Valley residents with thousands around the globe who are making this date - 10/10/10 - a Global Work Party day against the forces of climate change. At Knoll Farm, students from Fayston Elementary School will be doing an art installation and demonstration about the use of plastic bags (1,000 new plastic bags are used every second in the U.S. alone), Mad Bikes will be having a bike drive and painting party for their free local transportation project, and local artist Jessie McMillion will be guiding a mural painting project. Local musicians will jam through the afternoon until things wrap up around 3 p.m. 

The Harvest and Courage Celebration is offered free to the community by Center for Whole Communities as a way to celebrate the beauty of the land in the Mad River Valley and to provide a chance for the community to come together to see one another, have fun, give thanks for the harvest, and be inspired by nationally recognized leaders and musicians. 

Knoll Farm would be very grateful to any community members who would like to volunteer to help with this event. Anyone willing to volunteer is asked to arrive no later than 9:30 a.m. The center is also putting out a call to all who have a full-sized bike to donate to Mad Bikes. For bike donations (no kids bikes, please), drop them off at Knoll Farm on Saturday, October 9. To see the full schedule or to register, go to www.wholecommunities.org, or call 496-5690.


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