This season I feel like I can officially call myself a farmer. This is my fourth season growing vegetables, but this year in particular I have formed a deeper connection with the profession. Maybe its because I am constantly checking the weather, going to sleep at 9pm, or that I am realizing the lasting affects of the past on our future. Or even that I am beginning to experience the farm as a whole system and learning to let go of things I cannot change. After work on Wednesday, I decided to just sit down on the grass near our fall brassica fields and take a look around. Seems like a novel idea, but its a rarity for a farmer. The light has become quite soft. The sun seems to be glowing more then shining, sitting just a touch lower in the sky. The dragonflies are zooming like helicopters over the forest land of kale, collards, and broccoli.
Like most weeks, last week was a strange one. It was cool, hot, muggy, rainy, and sunny, all in one. Tuesday we finally had a full-on rainy day; actually one of our first of the season, believe it or not. The kind of day where we are in full rain suits: brightly colored overalls, coats, and boots. And somehow our socks still became soggy and caused our toes to wrinkle like you have been in a bathtub way too long. It was glorious, though, from a farmer's perspective; all 15 acres getting water at the same time! How genius our Earth can be! Luckily Dan and Erinn were able to get a lot of direct seeding done before the rain. The fall greens, like arugula, braising mix, radishes, and turnips, are germinating beautifully in our far fields. We transplanted the giant kohlrabi and our 10th generation of lettuce.
These days, most of the working hours are committed to harvesting, washing, packing, and storing. We are moving into that time of year that our challenging, back breaking work of bending to harvest eggplant and peppers, kneeling to pull up on some of the biggest carrots I've ever seen, and standing to bunch the new kale, chard, and collards lasts the entire day. This is when my yoga practice is even more important than I realize. Tomatoes are beginning to ramp up. We harvested around 700 pounds this past Friday. Zannah even brought a ripe watermelon back from our Weston fields, so they might be on their way soon.
Gretta [one of the farm tractors] broke again and Dan, Erinn, and Zannah had to crank start her, but she failed yet again. This meant we had to till a bit more than we would have liked in order to get a smooth bed top and incorporate fertilizer for the direct seeded crops. However, Tim came to work Thursday and she started right up! What are the odds? He must have a magic touch. I guess we all have our fussy days and maybe there is no rhyme or reason. We were then able to cultivate our three row crops nicely so that we all can hopefully enjoy more leafy greens without too many other plants getting in the way. We found some time to begin cleaning and sorting the garlic that has been curing in the greenhouse. It took a team effort, but the field crew also took on the task of tying another line on the tomatillos and tomatoes so that it will be easier for picking. I have been taking some time to care for the hoop houses and the basil in the Big Hoop is looking mighty fine and will be ready to pick soon. We said good-bye to Ali, one of our Forest Foundation interns who brought an amazing energy to our crew. This upcoming week will also be the last week for the other interns, Cassie and Alisa, along with the Weed Crew. It's going to be a celebratory week for all the hard work everyone has contributed.
This week also marks a huge milestone for an incredible person who has grown this organization into full bloom. Starting this week, our Executive Director, Claire, will be training Shannon Taylor, who is to replace her, over the next few weeks. I have been able to get to know Claire over the past couple years and look up to her in so many ways. She is such a strong leader, creative thinker, and thoughtful, caring person. I have been lucky to work for and along side her. Thank you Claire.
Looking back to some of former Farm Manager, Amanda Cather's past Notes from the Field, she writes, "During the growing season, farms are never a finished product. Crops and weeds are always growing, flowering, moving past their prime, and being turned under to make room for whatever comes next." The farm is always in constant change. It's a wild and chaotic place, but it's a challenge we like to take, otherwise we wouldn't keep coming back for more. Amanda says, "The most significant hurdle of every farm season is quieting the worries of the mind so that the land and the moment tell us where our efforts are most needed." Hopefully with each day we can adapt to the changes around us and thrive together. Let the harvest roll in and let our bellies be full.
Anna Kelchlin, Assistant Grower
For the Farm Crew