The Farm of Peace CSA is entering its third growing season and there are now thousands of tiny seeds lined up on shelves in our newly built solar seed shed. I spent the past week planting seeds in the warmth of the solar seed-growing shed, and if it is as nurturing to the seeds as it has been for me, we should have some healthy plants!

Every time I plant a seed, it leaves me in awe, which seems to deepen with each season. It is a miraculous and mysterious unfolding, which presents such clarity of truth about the caring of our Creator. He is so clearly the Creator, al-Khaliq, the King, al-Malik, as I see a vibrant green leaf unfold from a tiny dry seed; and the generous, al-Karim, as I witness this tiny seed unfold into a large plant, sometimes five feet tall, bearing fruit for many. He is an-Nur, as He sends the light to draw forth this process; al-Batin, as this life that will draw forth is hidden within its seed, awaiting the call; and al-Zahir, as it unveils itself and surrenders to the call to open. I will continue to ponder this and sing His qualities as I plant, and invite you all to come visit the seed shed next time you are at the farm and share your blessings for this new addition.

Jesse Amin is adding an 80-foot-long low tunnel in the field. This is where we intend to start early beets, carrots, spinach and lettuces for our early spring deliveries. All the new growth is exciting, and it’s just the beginning — we have many more seeds to sow!

Our CSA delivery season will begin on May 26, with space for 50 members. We are inviting 10 new members to join us in 2012, so please click CSA tab at the top of the page or contact Halima Willett at 717-404-0326 to sign up to be a CSA member this year, or if you would like more information about our program.

— Halima Jen Willett

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The watermelons are ripening on the vines — they look so massive, juicy and delicious that it is hard to be patient enough to pick them.  And to be quite honest —  I’m not!  Despite my husband’s wise advice that they hadn’t done their term according to the seed packet, and that the vine hadn’t shown any signs of being ready to release and let go, I convinced him to pick one anyway.

Surprise!  It was white inside.  That was almost two weeks ago, so now I am convinced they really are just about ready and this time he agrees!   We’ll see in a couple of days if the vines are ready to let go.

This is a gift that I so enjoy in the garden:  learning to watch the subtle signs and feel how the plants communicate.  Many fruits will “let go” and drop into my hand as soon as they have reached fruition; a few days early, I’ll have to tug.

Such a blessing to see how life shows us this all the time — when the timing is right, things fall into place, just like the tomato drops into my hand when it is ready.

When we are pushing and tugging to make something open or happen in our life, maybe it’s a sign that it’s time to step back and be patient and let it come into fruition.  White watermelon isn’t nearly as sweet and tasty as a juicy pink one!

Halima Jen

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Where does our food come from?

Our friend, sister Mary El Khatib brought about a dozen youngsters and their parents from the Nur Center in Northern Virginia to discover how carrots and other vegetables grow and to explore other delights of nature at the Farm of Peace. In an overnight Nature Camp organized by staffer Maryam Hand, the kids and their parents enjoyed time in the country and had hands-on experience of farm activities.


In the CSA garden, Jesse Amin showed the kids how to pull onions and carrots, and the kids had a blast unearthing their food!



With Maryam, they visited the orchard, seeing apples and peaches growing on the small trees. Maryam gave the children some of the apples as treats for the donkeys.

Mu’min Shay helped the kids make friends with the still-growing pastured poultry chicks; this is where the nutritious, wholesome meat on our table comes from.


Collecting eggs for breakfast was quite an adventure. Visiting the chicken coop, the children had a close-up encounter with the rooster and hens, and explored the nest boxes for fresh eggs.  In the evening, there was a campfire and of course, toasted marshmallows!

After a full morning of farm adventure — and a yummy pancake breakfast — the children gathered with Dr.  Jeanette Hablallah, who taught them about nature, plants, animals and bugs — and the beauty and awe of the creation they’d experienced on the farm. The children completed their Nature Camp with drawings of their experiences.  We hope all  the children and their parents will come back again to visit the farm!


"I love marshmallows" -- Adam


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“Do you not hear the currents of water running in the river praising God and thanking Him?  He waters all the fruits and vegetables and trees for you.  Isn’t that the essence of love?” ~ Sidi al Jamal


There is lots of love in the CSA garden! It shows up in the abundance and vibrancy of the vegetables that are growing so enthusiastically at this time in the season.  Zucchinis! Carrots!  Garlic! Beets! Peppers!  Tomatoes! You can almost watch them grow, as Halima Jen reports:

“A daily walk through the garden is necessary to keep an eye on what’s ripening.  It’s happening so fast!  I check the tomatoes with my son, Eyrie, this morning, who has a very keen eye and deep enjoyment for spotting anything that’s ready to be picked.  We didn’t find any just yet, but later in the afternoon, while weeding the eggplants and finding a handful of Japanese purple eggplants ready to pick, my eye caught a flash of red.  I sent Eyrie to investigate and sure enough, we have a row of tomatoes beginning to send their flashy red sign, “we’re ready!”

Darcy with a bunch of carrots

The love shows up in the water, soil and hands of the workers.  Jesse and Halima have willing helpers who rejoice in working in the garden, loving all the processes and moving with commitment through the hard work.

Rifqa Rebecca, CSA gardener, receives great joy from her hours of weeding, planting, harvesting and caring for the plants.  Our intern, Darcy is here for two months through the World Wide Organization of Organic Farmers, learning about gardening and life on the farm.  Many hands make light work, especially on harvest day, with CSA members joining in to bring in the produce and prepare and pack it for delivery.




And love shows up in the delight that the children bring to their time in the garden, exploring the beauty and generosity of nature in the plants, bugs, birds and bees (and sampling a carrot or bean here and there).

So, when you sit down to a dinner of golden squash, purple beets, snappy green beans or tender spinach, let all the LOVE  fill you as you enjoy these beautiful fruits of the garden.


~~Halima R

Rifqa, Benjamin & Jesse bring in the harvest

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Mary Willett shares her farm adventure

This city girl loves, loves, loves to visit her daughter, Jen Halima, son-in-law farmer Jesse Amin, and grandsons Kyle, Eyrie and Isaac on the Farm of Peace.

Gathering eggs in the coop is a thrill, since I’ve had lessons from Kyle. Most eggs are sitting in the nesting boxes, so beautiful and fresh, there for the collecting. Then there are those eggs that are still being sat upon by the mama. They need collecting to complete the job. Kyle has me reaching right under those chickens to collect those precious goods.

Kyle and grandma Mary

He explained that the younger brown chickens in the first coop are very tame (having had them since little chicks) “Just gently reach under, Grandma. They won’t peck you.”

Kyle gave me a demo and that helped me gather my courage. Sure enough, the little lady let me reach my hand into her warm nest to collect her gift.

Then there are the duck eggs to collect — that is another fun granny adventure with the boys! — Mary Willett

Kyle collects the eggs every day & packages them in cartons. It's part of his home-school project.

Kyle cares for the chickens and their pen; here he's fixing the fence

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One element of a CSA that I am very passionate about is education and awareness, and it’s a goal of our program to grow in our educational opportunities.  CSAs offer education that comes along naturally by eating with the seasons and experimenting with what shows up each week.

This week it was exciting for us to host the Master Gardeners from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and share how CSAs operate, along with other gardening information such as collecting rainwater and drip irrigation, for example. What a lovely, open, and enjoyable experience it was for us to share what we love.  I was also touched to learn the other day that the word “amatuer” stems from the Latin word meaning “a lover of.”  What a beautiful way to look at it!  We do love the garden and sharing the harvest — this is the motivating force behind it all.

The garlic leaves are beginning to brown and as they die back we can begin to pull the cloves.  This is such a fun job, as is pulling beets and carrots.  It brings out the kid in me — it’s very exciting to receive the surprise you tug up out of the ground.  Carrots will return this week.  We are going to give the beets another week to plump up, and then there are beds-full to give out in succession.  It’s the time of year that patience comes in handy.  Do we pull it now or wait a week and let it double in size?  Luckily, my husband, Jesse, carries the patience in his desire to be in most service to our members.  — Halima Jen Willett

Berkeley Springs Master Gardeners


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