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Waltham Fields Community Farm (incorporated as Community Farms Outreach, Inc.) is a nonprofit farming organization focusing on sustainable food production, fresh food assistance, and on-farm education. For more information about Waltham Fields check out our website!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Notes From The Field: Second Verse...

... same as the first. It's a favorite saying of Andy's, and it perfectly captures the rhythm that we fall into at this time of the year. Mondays, harvest squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. Beets and carrots if we're lucky. Maybe some melons. Scramble to get some beds made so we can plant some more lettuce and other greens. Tuesdays, harvest lettuce, chard, kale, collards, other greens, and anything else we didn't get to on Monday. Pick tomatoes. Scramble to get some things planted in the beds we made the day before. CSA pickup and outreach market. Wednesdays, back to harvesting Monday's crops. Pick tomatoes. Take a break to harvest some melons. Think about doing something besides harvesting. Cultivate. Thursdays, back to harvesting Tuesday's crops. Pick tomatoes. CSA pick up. Fridays, harvest everything. Pick tomatoes. Talk about how to harvest sweet potatoes. Saturday, CSA pickup. Don't harvest anything (except sometimes tomatoes). Try to tie up loose ends so the farm can rest for a day before it all begins again.

This rhythm is alternately comforting and maddening, depending on the day and your mindset at the time. It is deeply reassuring to have cucumber and tomatoes that need to be harvested on a regular basis. At the same time, if you have any resistance to bending over in the same position you've been in for ten weeks, reaching into the spiny branches of the squash plants with an arm still engraved with angry-looking scratches from two days ago, filling buckets and trays again and again and carrying them down to the end of the row while mosquitoes buzz around your ears and neck and the sun grows stronger -- then it can take an effort of will to begin again each week and each day as the season lengthens into maturity. Some say if you repeat a task 10,000 times, you master that task. My son was trying to do this with catching a baseball earlier this summer; his friend was practicing scales on the piano. If picking cucumbers can be put into this category,we have become virtuosos by late August.

When this rhythm is interrupted, as it was last week with the approach of Hurricane Irene, it takes us a little while to figure out how to do something else. With our hand in the glove or our fingers on the keys, our arm sunk deep in that spiny squash, our minds can sometimes go on autopilot, drift into an alternate consciousness that makes it difficult to get out of the deep groove the repetition has worn into our minds. Last week, after a flurry of indecision, we decided to put some seasonal projects temporarily on hold and sink a significant amount of energy into storm preparation. Beginning Wednesday afternoon, we seeded and transplanted in every available bed on the farm, trying to get spinach, arugula, lettuce, braising greens, Dan and Erinn, with the help of some volunteers, took the plastic off of our old and unpredictable hoophouse. We picked all of our pumpkins and stored them with the onions, shallots and garlic in the smaller of our two greenhouses. With the help of a group from the BU School of Management, we harvested and sorted 2,000 pounds of tomatoes in two hours and stored those in the greenhouse as well. We battened down the hatches, storing anything that seemed like it might fly away, buttoned up the greenhouses, and went home to wait.

Along with much of north Waltham, the farm lost power for a few hours on Sunday morning. According to our rain gauge, about 3.5 inches of rain fell between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning. The winds were strong enough to knock our hot peppers around, but most everything else on the farm looked fairly normal by Monday morning; there was no standing water in the fields, only a few shingles off the gray shed roof, and both greenhouses and our little green shed were undamaged. Early in the morning, we took all the harvest crates and wash station bins out of the walk-in cooler where we had stored them and put them all back where they belonged. We opened the greenhouses back up and put all the pick-your-own signs back in the field. We took a little walk around to make sure there were still crops in the ground to harvest. And then it was time to pick the squash again.

Enjoy the harvest!

-Amanda, Andy, Erinn, Dan, Larisa and Lauren

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