This week, right after Thanksgiving on Friday and Saturday (25th and 26th), Paul and Ruth Buxman will host their 23rd annual “Art, Country Store & Farm Visit” at Sweet Home Ranch between Dinuba and Kingsburg.
Paul Buxman’s paintings, prints and notecards will be on display and for sale, along with his famous walnut biscuits and Sweet Home’s fantastic jams, purple cream and olives. Nearby small farmers will be offering everything from honey to canned peaches, mountain goat cheese, olive oil and even canned tomato sauce. Artisans also will be offering herbal tinctures and salves, handmade soaps, jewelry and art glass, candles and wood art. If you’d rather be in the presence of something real than fighting fellow citizens for Black Friday deals, I recommend you check out this incredible event.
What is being celebrated at this annual happening is more than just the bounty of the year’s harvest and the beauty of abundance, however. What is really being celebrated is a revelation, the vision of reality Paul was given more than four decades ago when his young son Wyeth developed cancer. It led Paul to go cold turkey off pesticides and turn toward organic production on his small farm.
I have heard Paul speak at various gatherings over the last 30 years, always without notes, always from the bottom of his heart, speaking the pulsing truth he knows inside out, and have been awed by his words. The first time I actually heard him, he was describing the birth of his organic producer organization, California Clean—the only sustainable ag group I’ve encountered to recognize the importance of who grows the food, on what size of farm; membership was limited to 100+ acres or less, if I remember correctly. “We won’t charge you extra for not poisoning your food” was his motto, challenging not only the frame of mind of conventional food production, but also the organic food industry that was developing then, which pinned the survival of small farmers on finding niche markets for organic products among well-off urban people.
What you get when you get a taste of Paul Buxman is a truth underlying the myths of California agribusiness, a truth standing in direct contradiction to it. Our myth says that we feed the world, but in our three highest-producing counties (Fresno, Tulare, Kern regularly take that honor, as measured in dollar value of ag commodities) we also have the highest rates of hunger. We feed the world (the parts of the world that can pay, at least,) but we don’t feed our neighbors. Paul Buxman has spent the better part of his life proving it doesn’t have to be that way, that we feed our neighbors first even if it’s only hope soup (see last week’s column, “Wilma” for the meaning of that term.) In Paul Buxman’s world, no one goes hungry.
Paul is not unique in his neighborliness. I have met one small farmer after another who feels the immorality of the economic system in which they are snagged, the closing vise in which they are caught, the destruction of our natural bounty that occurs when crops don’t make a profit unless they’re exported through the narrowing neck of the marketers. One after another sees the insanity of the way our water supply is distributed, often illegally but without any way to call the cops. What makes Paul unique, and a living treasure in this Valley, is that he has stood up, called upon those other good farmers, and said “let’s try to do this right.” He’s still standing, and still calling.
So if you want a whiff of heaven on earth, of the reality of heaven on earth, give yourself a little time to go taste abundance at Sweet Home Ranch this weekend. The hours are 9-5 pm Friday and 9-4 Saturday, including live Christmas music from around the world by Musica Viva and FMC Players starting at 3 pm Saturday. The address is 4399 Ave. 400 (between Roads 40 and 48) about 5 miles east of Kingsburg; call 559-260-1958 for more information.
Be well. Be better. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Love, Trudy.
Trudy Wischemann is a scribe in Lindsay, once the small-farmer Olive Capitol of the World. You can send her your visions c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of the The Sun-Gazette newspaper.