Did you know that yesterday marked the winter solstice for the northern hemisphere? The winter solstice, so named because it designates the beginning of astronomical winter, marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. This happens because our planet rotates on a tilted axis as it orbits the Sun. The axial tilt causes the days to lengthen or shorten, depending on which hemisphere you’re in, and the seasons to change.
Astronomical winter, or solstice, usually falls around the 21st of December and lasts until the spring equinox in March. Meteorological winter, the one the weather forecasters pay the most attention to, is different. It begins on December 1st and lasts until the end of February. Though the solstice marks the true astronomical beginning of winter, weather forecasters consider December 1st the beginning of winter because December, January and February have historically been the coldest months of the year in the northern hemisphere. As the days shorten, the Earth loses some of its stored thermal energy from the Sun. By the time December arrives, the portion of the planet tilted away from the Sun is noticeably cooler. When the days begin to grow longer and more thermal energy is absorbed, temperatures begin to rise again.
In agricultural societies, winter solstice has traditionally been an important event marked with celebrations that usually include something that we here at Rural Resources can relate to: food. Depending on the culture, feasts lasted from days to weeks and brought together families and communities. After months of short, dark days, they looked forward to the return of the Sun, craving it's light and warmth. As the days grew longer and brighter, the cycle of planting, cultivating and harvest would continue. The land would again bear fruit, providing for their needs of food, shelter, heat, fiber and medicine. It was a time of reflection and rejoicing but also an act of faith that spring, summer and autumn would return again, with provision for another year.
As we enter into winter, we here at Rural Resources are marking the season with an act of faith also. We are moving forward in the construction of a building, the Farm & Food Learning Center, that will provide space for our programs, community education and offices, to replace the one that was tragically lost to a fire in 2009. Since that time, we’ve persevered using the old tobacco barn, some outbuildings and a small, loaned trailer for office space. One of the things we’re most looking forward to with the new building is indoor plumbing.
The faith part comes in with a capital campaign we’ve kicked off this month to help us qualify for grant money to finish the construction. Through a generous opportunity from the Appalachian Regional Commission, we will receive $200,000 if we can raise $200,000 ourselves. We’ve seen the seeds planted in our youth programs and community outreach bear fruit. With this building, we’re preparing for an even bigger harvest. Your help can make our faith a reality. Please consider joining our effort to change lives and strengthen our community through connecting farms, food and families by making a donation at here. Donations can also be made on our website or by mail to: Rural Resources, 2870 Holly Creek Rd, Greeneville, TN 37745..