Noda Farm at the Duckworth's Pride of Plainfield
The Upper Valley is a foodie haven, not in that highly architectural and overpriced dinner plate with multiple contrived garnishes sort of way. It's the farms. They keep us in local and fresh eggs, milk, meats, cheeses and dozens of kinds of veggies and fruits. We who live in the Upper Valley invest in CSAs, shop at our favorite farm stands (everyone has one), seek out orchards and pick our own berries.
On this past Sunday afternoon, the blueberry fields of the Noda Farm were dotted with Upper Valley families, some wandering down the road with their filled containers to the weighing station. Less than a mile away, a new exhibition, Pride of Plainfield at the Aidron Duckworth Art Museum, was telling the story of Lafayette and Mayme Noda. In 1956, the couple had moved to Hanover NH when Lafayette was appointed to the faculty of the Dartmouth Medical School. They purchased what would become the blueberry and Christmas tree farm two years later in 1958. Mayme died in 2006. Lafayette retired from farming at the age of 94 on the advice of his doctor, and died in 2013 at the age of 96. The farm is now run by Kesaya Noda and her husband Christopher Dye.
A tribute that is part of this exhibition and written by the couple's children states that their parents were born in California, ". . . in an intentional agricultural settlement of Japanese immigrants known as the Yamato Colony, they were imprisoned in Amache, Colorado and eventually settled in rural New Hampshire. Committed Quakers for more than 50 years, our parents are two people who--above all else--seek to live their faith, in matters large and small."
Indeed. A poem by Kesaya Noda, based upon an email from her mother, is dated 2001. The then 83-year old Mayme Noda talks about standing in the cold along the interstate in the couple's weekly vigil for peace. She writes of the United States at that time. "We bomb. . . Reminds us of those California times--the war, the camps, the hate. . . We get the finger as the cars go by." And the musician Mayme concludes with a pithy and poignant wrap up of daily Upper Valley life: "I'm still singing. He's working on the winter wood."
First plow in Plainfield NH, owned by Lt. Joseph Kimball in the 1770s
Pride of Plainfield features stories, artifacts, and taped interviews with current owners of the following farms and food producers: Edgewater Farm, McNamara Dairy, Riverview Farm, Hall Apiaries, Taylor Brothers Farm, Garfield's Smokehouse, and Noda Farm. The exhibition continues through October 29, 2017. The museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.
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Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge