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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!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Notes from the Field: Weed Crew Thanks

This is the last week that our 2012 Weed Crew, Annabelle, Becca, Katie and Meghan, will be with us and the sadness I feel is deep and real. As some of you may have noticed, this can be a weedy place. We are dealing with a legacy "weed seed bank" whose size would make Citigroup blush (see: "Too big to fail"). Some three years ago we decided that it was necessary to add a four-person crew that would be responsible expressly for hand weed control. This crew spends five mornings a week for three of our weediest months on their hands and knees pulling, prying, wrenching, levering, sometimes hoeing and occasionally, virtually tweezing weeds from the soil. All so that our crops might thrive. They bring airflow to congested beds where disease may have flourished, access to light, so that tender plants don't have to reach and become leggy, and limit competition, so that plants becoming established have their nutritive needs satisfied. They are also the people on the farm that direct our drop in volunteers during the week. They act as ambassadors for the farm, explaining the tasks for the day, keeping people moving and motivated during hot, dry, cold and wet weather. They answer questions about the farm and organization, all while focused on the task at hand: Kill Weeds.

This is no small feat. It is work that can be redundant and can feel thankless, particularly if one loses sight of its importance. It can be very difficult to remember that this work, done as maintenance between transplant and harvest, so significantly impacts our yields, ease of harvest and overall efficiency, and therefore our CSA share at the stand and ultimately the food access work that we do in our community.

We have been fortunate to have three crews in a row that were all fantastic. But this year's crew has set the bar very high for all Weed Crews to follow.

This bunch has been all business from day one; nose down, bell to bell, efficient, team driven and fastidious. They don't posses the level of hate for our weeds that some in the past have (I'm looking at you Kenny...) but these four have been the model of incredible consistency, always ready to go in the morning, always up for the task, no matter how daunting, always with a smile and a quick inquiry about the work they'd be doing or what else was going on that day on the farm. They quickly learned every technique we taught and applied them thoughtfully, efficiently and briskly, but most of all thoroughly. This crew does clean work, I mean immaculate.

It is hard for me to actually believe that they have been with us now for eleven of their twelve weeks. It is more difficult for me to picture life without them. Annabelle, Becca, Katie and Meghan - I thank you personally for your season of hard work and the spirit with which you toiled. You will be missed. Really.

Enjoy the harvest.

Dan, for the farm crew

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