The tradition takes many forms, from small village gatherings to extravagant celebrations to religious rituals. As different as these festivals are, they share a common thread: the opportunity to feast on autumn’s bounty with those we call our community.
Our harvest festival at The Ecology Center has also taken a variety of forms over the years, but has always centered on the milpa—the traditional polyculture of corn, beans, and squash that embodies our vision for an interdependent food future. While we wanted to keep the focus around these iconic bioregional crops, we also wanted this year’s celebration to reflect the bountiful growth our Village has enjoyed over the past year. It has truly been a year of dreams coming true here at The Ecology Center, from new education programs to breaking ground on our long-awaited community café—what better way to celebrate that than by bringing yet another cherished dream to life?
That’s how the Milpa Music Festival came to life.
Longtime friends of The Ecology Center will know that we’ve been talking for years about hosting a music festival on the farm. The expansion of our Village has brought connections with a community of wonderful musicians who share our vision and values for the health of people and planet. Exploring their artistic expressions of these values sparked the idea for a one-of-a-kind music festival that communicates the abundant joy and soul of living in relationship to the land and each other.
Knowing that mainstream music festivals tend to offer an “escapist” experience inflated with commercially driven appeal, we’ve imagined this event as a fresh expression of the community hearth. It’s a place to gather for warmth, nourishment, and connection that builds our resilience and strength as a community. While our education programs, farm dinners, and other programs serve this goal in a teaching capacity, music offers a powerful new channel for us to share and celebrate the Grow Eat Make ethos that lies at the heart of our work.
In selecting musical acts for this event, we looked throughout our region for bands whose music expresses the grounded energy, creative collaboration, and improvisatory freedom that we seek to embody in our Village’s cultural (and agricultural) practices. We couldn’t be more excited to share the lineup we’ve put together—a mix of musical expressions that embody the joyful chaos of creation that we honor through our regenerative organic model.
Artistic and recreational activities have always been a part of traditional harvest festivals. History shows us that villages and cultures throughout the world included plays, parades, games, crafts, music and dance as part of their autumn celebrations. The abundance of the fall harvest is reflected in the unleashed merriment and creativity of a community. Sharing experiences like these is just as essential to our life as a Village as the food we grow or the concepts we teach. When we are moved together by melody, harmony and rhythm, we nourish the collective consciousness that has interwoven us since time immemorial and strengthen the roots that will keep us grounded and stable as our movement expands.