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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, July 1, 2014

NOTES FROM THE FIELD – Survival and Growth

Life’s desire to survive is innate.  It seems to be wired within all beings.  As we transplanted swiss chard, beets, lettuce, kohlrabi, cucumbers, scallions, celery, and celeriac this week, I am always amazed at the resiliency of life.  Of course, as farmers we start out by doing everything in our power to create a nurturing and stable home for the seedling.  We start by “hardening off” the plants for a few days (moving them from the greenhouse to the outdoors) allowing them to acclimate to their new outside environment without going into the ground yet.  Then there is bed preparation, which makes space in the earth for roots and gives each crop the nutrients it needs to grow.  After this process we work to transplant the seedlings, usually done by tractor but sometimes by hand.  It is time for the seedlings to be in the world, to take root on their own and for nature to nurture.   

And yet, despite all of these preparations, sometimes nature works against us.  We have been in a severe need of rain this week.  I recently learned that vegetables need ideally 1 inch of rain per week for full growth.  When it’s dry it creates many restrictions on what we can do.  Two important tasks on the farm, transplanting and cultivating, should not be done, unless irrigation is possible.  There must be some moisture in the soil when we do weeding because crops are inevitably disturbed during cultivation.  So what did we do?  We harvested in the morning to first get the veggies washed and into the coolers.  Next, Amanda, Zannah, and Hector worked to first irrigate where we could while the field crew pounded tomato stakes and tied tomatoes.  Then all of us went to the greenhouse to seed the week’s plants.  And, then when the sky failed to release even a single droplet from its vast sphere, all we could do was pray for rain.  I remember Amanda asking if Hector was going to do a rain dance.   And then it came!  Wednesday early in the morning I remember waking up and hearing the rain and thinking how happy Amanda will be.  By the end of the day the plants were lush, full, and vibrant.  And the cycle continues.

Lately it feels like the velocity of time has sped up along with the daylight.  The plants are growing below and above the soil and so are the weeds. Summer squash and zucchini were harvested for the first time this year.  The weed crew and field crew have also adapted to a new home and new kind of work.  As a farm family, we are able to do an immense amount of work each day.  The harvests are increasing along with our capabilities to harvest, wash, and pack, and eat.  It is inspiring to take a step back, breathe, and see what we have accomplished and how we have grown too.  This season I am more aware of a greater connectivity to all life.  Humans and plants seem to be more similar than I had realized.  It is a beautiful relationship that I think can help us understand each other better – looking deeper into our needs and instinctual determination to survive, grow, and help others do the same.

Anna, for the farm staff and all involved in the process 

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