And all of a sudden, the season is nearly done and I haven’t written in a month and there is still-so-much.
So much to catch up about here, so much to finish at the farm before I drop it for the winter, so much recovery, so much gratitude, so much to mull over, talk about, try to improve. At times in the midst of the season, when I’d be chest-high in crates of peppers to sort or swirling amongst fifty eager people doing ten different projects, the “so much” felt like too much, and I would long for the winter, when I could reminisce with romance while my back rested and my skin faded back to its usual pasty hue. Sometimes, farming throws at us just too much to truly enjoy.
But then the markets end for the season, and every day is no longer completely consumed by harvest and processing. The rains come (and go, as it were this year…) and we’ve cover cropped the fields, and there’s no more bed prep on our weekly lists. The CSA shrinks to the Late Fall group of sixty four members, and Tuesday harvest feels easier. Fill Your Pantry swallows us whole for two weeks, but we stay afloat and are reminded of the Youth Farm Magic that brings us just the right people to harvest and prepare everything that seemed impossible to get together. Two friends, six Urban Farm students that need to do community service hours, a couple regular volunteers that show up for overtime when they see how desperate we are, how quickly sunset sneaks up on us, how grateful we are when they tackle something as simple as bagging parsnips. We clear the fields of food that won’t survive the winter harshness, gather up all the irrigation materials, build compost, finish planting in the high tunnels, and watch as the to-do list slowly shrinks.
Until one day, I go home and realize it’s the last week of the season I’ll work full time. And we won’t add anything more to that to-do list this year. And when I step into the propagation house to show a couple beginning farmers our systems, my nose instinctively searches for the smell of freshly watered potting soil and fragile cotyledons. It’s uncanny, how each coming stage in this long, insane process of producing vegetables tosses us previews and memories at just the right moments. Spring is coming before winter has even set in. I can taste it.
For now though, we’re still weeks away from the true finale. Volunteer hours have ended, Ted insists he’ll only be at the farm when he “really feels like it,” and our stalwart interns and youth farmers will sign off for good after tomorrow’s last CSA packing. We’ll still need to harvest a few truck loads of greens for the food bank, finish cleaning up the fields, top off the compost pile and turn the manure, sweep mounds of onion peels from the propagation house, turn in final reports on volunteers, sales, and food production, and see how much time left we have to clean out sheds and tackle a few random projects we never find time for during the main season. Still so much, but in the shadow of a whole season, it feels like a piece of cake. Or more like the feeling of cracking open a pint jar of tomatillo salsa in the middle of winter. POP! That feeling of relief, rejoice, and satisfaction has already started reverberating through me.