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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, October 9, 2012

Notes from the Field: And Then There Were Five


This high summer we love will pour its light

the fields grown rich and ragged in one strong moment

then before we're ready will crash into autumn
with a violence we can't accept

a bounty we can't forgive

Night frost will strike when the noons are warm

the pumpkins wildly glowing      the green tomatoes

straining huge on the vines

queen anne and blackened susan will straggle rusty
as the milkweed  stakes her claim

she who will stand at last      dark sticks barely rising

up through the snow      her testament of continuation
We'll dream of a longer summer
but this is the one we have:

I lay my sunburnt hand 

on your table:      this is the time we have

- Adrienne Rich (from Your Native Land, Your Life)

Now that the field crew is gone, it's pretty quiet on the farm.  With Andy away on paternity leave, it's just Sutton, Zannah, Dan, Erinn and me in the fields to harvest the vegetables and do whatever else we have time to do when the pick is done.  These days we are coming in around 8 AM, since the mornings are dark and cold.  We all put on rain bibs and boots against the heavy dew, drink another cup of coffee, and head out into the fields.  We harvest all morning, with one person in the wash station to rinse and process the food as it comes in and four picking and transporting the vegetables.

Occasionally, we are joined in the fields by a bird of prey.  Around the first of October, voles and field mice become bold and voracious as they stock up for the winter, and their predators follow suit.  Red-tailed hawks are very common in the trees around the farm, and often soar over the fields pursued by a noisy murder of crows.  Less often, a forest hawk appears silently and disappears as quickly as it came.  Last season, a great blue heron stalked the fields, and this year, for the first time, a northern harrier skimmed the tops of the tall weeds as it hunted. As the stresses of the season fall away, it is much easier to take the time to notice the diversity and beauty of the life in the fields that we never put there, and can never take away.  

If each month of the farming season could be summarized in a Big Life Lesson, they might look something like this:

April:  Rebirth is Hard.

May:  Anxiety Does Not Make Things Grow.
June:  Good Luck (see June CSA newsletter).
July:  You Are Not in Control.

August:  Lift With Your Legs.

September:  Abundance.

October (two lessons):  Let Go and Savor.

The deeply dualistic nature of this time of the year on the farm, when we are letting go of the season while intently enjoying each beautiful fall day, helps balance the single-mindedness that can sometimes dominate our world view during the rest of the farming season.  This time of year, we watch one crop after another finish its life cycle.  Late last week, we mowed and disked the tomatoes; it was funny to watch a crop that we had spent so much time and effort trying to maintain, and then spent so many hours harvesting, disappear from the face of the farm.  One of the joys of farming:  all our efforts, all our successes and all our failures return to the soil equally.

Hope you are enjoying this beautiful time, and the harvest.

Amanda, for the farm crew

Images by Rebekah Carter (2012.)

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