Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to our blog! Learn about our farm operation, public programs, and the people behind our work through the Notes from the Field and Education sections. Peruse the Recipes section for some staff favorites.

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!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Notes from the Field: Abundance

All morning with dry instruments
The field repeats the sound
of rain
from memory...
It is August
The flocks are beginning to form
                       -- WS Merwin, from Provision

It's everywhere in the natural world:  spider webs and seed heads, the slant of the sun ever further to the south, the deep colors of goldenrod and purple asters, young hawks riding the air currents over the farm all day, the small flocks of migrating geese already in the air at dawn and dusk.  Summer is maturing, beginning to give up the fight, but glorious in its decline.  The harvest is rolling in.

This is what we plan for in January, poring over seed catalogs and spreadsheets.  Our seeding and transplanting for the season are almost complete, right on schedule -- just one more round of lettuce and bok choy and a couple more seedings of arugula and mustard greens to go.  There are a few more weeks of good growing weather left, but the sunsets are creeping ever earlier and time is growing short to have any impact on the crops, except for pulling them out of the field.  Some crops are coming in much better than we had planned -- cucumbers, tomatoes, and garlic, for example.  Some are not as good -- the leeks and onions in our unirrigated Lyman Estate field, for example.  It's becoming very clear that unless we can figure out a way to irrigate that field, we won't be able to continue to use it in future seasons.  There are successes and challenges in any season, but the general -- and beautiful -- impression of this time of year is that of abundance, of enough to go around.  Abundance is satisfying at a primal level, an old fulfillment of the promise of the spring, somehow related to the fleeting sadness we have in these cool, beautiful evenings.  It is satisfying to us as farmers because enough is our goal, the destination of every season in which we set seed into the earth.  Abundance is beautiful.  It is also backbreaking.

Now there are days when all we do is harvest.  In the mornings, the crops that benefit from being picked cool:  lettuce and greens, cabbage and broccoli.  In the afternoons, the crops that like to come in dry:  onions, curing in the greenhouse still, another round of melons, tomatoes.  Tomato picking at the end of July is a technical art:  hunting for ripe tomatoes in cascades of green leaves, working from newest planting to oldest in order to minimize the spread of disease, etc.  Tomato picking in early September is an endurance sport.  Two at a time, we fill two five-gallon buckets at a time, carry them to the ends of the rows, sort, repeat.  Abundance says:  did you think enough would be easy?   

On the rare afternoon when we don't have to harvest anything, we have tractor ballet.  Three or four tractors at a time get attached to the mower, the disk harrow, and cultivators and make their way around the farm, tidying up, turning in, and killing weeds in the beds and pathways of the tiny fall greens.  This is the other satisfying work of the late season:  putting the field to rights for the winter.  Turning in crops that are finished, preparing the fields for cover crop seeds later in the week, making neat and orderly what was bountiful and chaotic.

There's a lot of harvest still to come. But this fleeting moment of abundance, where tomatoes, basil and zucchini overlap with broccoli, radishes and fall cabbage, comes only once a year.

Enjoy the harvest.

Amanda, for the farm crew

No comments: