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Karen’s Letter: Harvest Time in Great Barrington

Karen Christensen  
In a community where farming is valued as it is here in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, harvest time is a big deal. The Berkshire region prides itself on locally produced foods. Community Supported Agriculture began here. Thanksgiving (celebrated a month from now) is based around the foods grown in this part of the world. My front porch is decorated with squash and pumpkins and tall cornstalks, and many houses have scarecrows, too, which remind me of Guy Fawkes Day celebrations. Of course in England, all the “Guys” are tossed onto the bonfire on November 5th. I don’t know what happens to our New England scarecrows but I’m thinking of making one dressed in suit and tie – a fashion that is so rarely seen here that I feel it may truly scare away the birds.
Squash - with names

Click on all photos to enlarge.

Harvest celebrations remind us that winter is on the way. But they also remind us of springtime past because we are reaping our rewards for work done then – when we planted the parsley I’m now packing in olive oil to add to soups on snowy evenings. When winter comes, the saying goes, spring can’t be far behind, and I wonder what Spring 2013 will bring. Like you, I’m planning next year’s budgets and products now, just as when I harvest things from my garden, I make notes for seeds to buy for next year and plans for expanding the rose garden. I often plant this time of year, too, adding to the daffodils and tulips and fritillaria that make springtime such a joy.

Great Barrington - Knob Hill in the autumn
Lake Mansfield - autumn

We have a major harvest this year at Berkshire Publishing: the 10-volume Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability. This series of volumes – now a complete, integrated single work – took nearly seven years of intense labor by nearly 1,000 people in 70 countries. It provides a critical mass of well-organized, expert-written material that is not available from other sources. The collection creates a frame of reference that makes it easier to get a handle on complex issues and a unique global network of experts came together to  make this possible. They include experts in the fields of business, law, ecosystem and resource management, environmental history, biology, engineering, ethics, and philosophy. And we are busy “planting” for springtime: Berkshire “Essentials” are rolling out, the third edition of the Encyclopedia of World Sport is well underway, and we are developing international education and custom publishing services. We’ve launched Berkshire AcademicPub, a service that provides professors and institutions with the ability to assemble custom materials from over 7 million pieces of pre-cleared pieces of content in over 70 disciplines – click here to read our interview with AcademicPub. And we’re making our backlist available in more ways all the time. For example, the teaching materials company Chegg asked if they could to sell ebook versions of several Berkshire titles that are being used as textbooks – something we expect to see happen with individual volumes of the Encyclopedia of Sustainability.

STAFF NEWS: Designer Anna Myers is now working from New York City, where her new husband has begun his first job out of law school. (Anna and Frank are among the 1,363 signers of the Bring Back the Trains petition, which you too can sign – we hope the new passenger service from New York will bring colleagues here and enable us to expand our local staff. Marjolijn (Mar) Kaiser is working from – well, I’m not sure where she is working from – somewhere in Europe. She continues to manage our China projects and to produce amazing cakes. Bill Siever has moved to sports while spending all his free time exploring the world outdoors.

Taconic Hills - photo by Bill Siever Mar's cake Taconic Hills - photo by Bill Siever

I’m delighted to share these lovely photos, taken by Berkshire staffers, because they let our farflung friends and colleagues see our world (and Mar’s birthday cake). What we do in this small town is intended to improve the wider world, and it is with your encouragement that we work with teachers, students, and leaders in many fields to improve access to essential knowledge for our common future.

With warm regards,

Karen Christensen

Karen Christensen, CEO & Publisher

Connect to Berkshire Publishing – specializing in international relations, cross-cultural communication, global business and economic information, and environmental sustainability – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest.

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