Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Notes from the Field - Our Fantastic Field Crew
Unless you get lucky, you might not have a chance to meet this year's field crew. They are a humble and elusive bunch. They work 8 AM to 4 PM five days a week on the farm, and they don't take a lot of credit for what they do. They started just after the first week of the CSA in June, and they'll work with us for two more weeks, finishing up the tomato harvest and launching into the sweet potato pick after completing our final round of transplanting (lettuce, tatsoi, bok choy and chard for our winter shares) late last week. They have seeded in the greenhouse, planted in the field, weeded, moved irrigation pipe, turned electric fences on and off, weeded some more, planted some more, and picked thousands of pounds of beautiful vegetables every single day, in pouring rain and blistering heat, sweltering humidity and chilly clear mornings. While they occasionally peek in to the vegetable distribution barn on a Tuesday or a Thursday, mostly they walk through the fields at the end of the day to harvest a few veggies to take home, then vanish quietly. But you should know who they are, and how they have impacted the farm this season. We couldn't do it without them.
Hector Cruz wrote to us in his application for the position that he was a "mature person", not a young person, and that he was mentioning this because he himself does not like surprises and did not want to surprise us. He takes public transportation two hours each way to get to the farm from his home in East Boston, where he lives with his wife, two children, and a beautiful garden that he calls "Hector's Farm" and Maricela calls a shrine. He has a scientific and poetic mind, an unstoppable work ethic, a beautiful singing voice and an impish sense of humor. He is early to work every single day. Hector is kind, curious, a great teacher, an thoughtful colleague, and the undisputed boss of the farm kitchen, where he eats his beautiful, well-balanced, mostly vegan meals with impeccable manners. He is always at your elbow, asking "what can I do to help"?
Many people who apply for field crew positions call themselves "avid cyclists" and declare that they will be able to arrive at the farm by bicycle every morning able to work a full day in the fields. Maricela Escobar is one of the few folks we've known who can actually pull it off, with the help of a few chocolate chips here and there. Maricela constantly challenges all of us on the farm to be true to our principles, or to rethink them. She is a true radical, with a loving heart and a passion for social justice, art, and nourishment for the body and soul. We have had some of the most interesting, honest, and difficult conversations in the fields because of Maricela's honesty and willingness to push us beyond our usual limits this season, although there are many more we could have had. Maricela's powerful connections with Boston's bicycle, art and activist communities, and her network of family and friends, help keep her immense energy up despite her many commitments.
Amber Sandager came to us with a background in roller derby and public relations and a deep interest in nutritious eating. She has been a bit taken aback by the amount of sugar farmers consume during the season, but she's gamely tried her best to keep up with the rest of us while still eating healthy. Dirt, bugs and humidity are definitely well out of Amber's comfort zone (she's a desert girl who grew up in New Mexico), but she has proved herself willing and able to take on just about anything, and keep us all updated on pop culture, current television, and the Boston restaurant scene. Her patience and diligence with the unfamiliar work of the farm have paid off this season, as she has become faster and more graceful every week.
Lauren Trotogott is just a plain hard worker. You know you have a hard worker in your midst when you hire a bartender; you just aren't sure how they're going to handle the early mornings. Lauren is one of the few who can pull it off. She can work the bar at Legal Seafoods in the evenings and still bunch kale with the best of them in the morning. To call someone solid, reliable, and competent can sound like middle-of-the-road faint praise, but when it comes to farming, this kind of commendation is as high as it gets. Lauren is the one you want on your farm crew when times get tough, when you have rotten tomatoes to sort, 2000 pounds of food to load onto a truck in 15 minutes, or a big harvest to bring in. She's mentally one step ahead of us most of the time, but she's physically present every moment to do whatever needs to be done, and to do it as well as she possibly can.
These four individuals, as different as they could possibly be, have made our farm season more productive and, as important, more fun. We are very much looking forward to our final two weeks with them this season, and to seeing what adventures they take on in the weeks and months to come. If you are fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of them in the next week or two, be sure to say hello and thank you to the folks who made this season possible. We are grateful and proud to call them our co-workers and friends.
Enjoy the harvest,
Amanda, for the farm staff