Some days, I show up with a vague idea of what we should be doing, get going on something, and redirect as needed. Other days, I have a page-long list of projects to try and tackle. When Ted takes a vacation and leaves me at the helm, I often have a packet of must-do lists, back-up plans, and reminders. I like the security of working alongside someone with so much experience, and being able to always ask questions, double check, avoid second-guessing my own judgement calls. Over the past couple years, I've gotten better at understanding what the priorities are, and I feel less and less uncertain when I find myself making quick decisions. I've been feeling more at ease calling some shots this season. Today was a classic example this back-and-forth decision-making when Ted and I both have a handle on what we want to do, communicate about it, and then let go and allow the day to flow as it will.
My clipboard is still topped with the following (scribbled and muddy) list:
- potting soil
- fill trays
- garlic weeding
- level and wood chip GH [greenhouse] entry
- mulch trees
- harvest escarole/bok choy/lettuce
It's a solid list, because it has more than we were likely to accomplish with the people we were expecting, but enough to keep everyone engaged if a lot of extra folks dropped in. A list like that, with more than you can reasonably complete in a day, keeps me ticking and thinking ahead, remembering how to move volunteers forward when they've lulled with their coffee by the picnic tables or are starting to freeze out in the field.
A sorority from the University of Oregon, Alpha Chi Omega, came to both the Youth Farm and Grassroots Garden for their national day of service, and they were 40 strong at 10am. After my normal orientation and tour, we divided them into two groups: rain jackets and no rain jackets. Ted took the jackets out to the field to trim the old strawberry plants and weed the garlic field, while I took the jacket-less gals to harvest in the greenhouses. I showed a few of them how to start spreading wood chips over our muddy pathways, and before long Ted joined them to level the ground with the tractor and haul tractor-bucket-loads of chips to accelerate the process. And that's when the flow starts: I break away to check in on the women in the field, give them feedback, get more supplies, and show them where to dump compost. Back in the greenhouse, they finish one bed and move on to another. Then the garlic weeders are getting numb and come in to trade with the harvesters, so I re-train the new groups and away they go on the escarole. As time passes, I ask a few more people to join the strawberry trimmers so they can finish the beds in the time they have, and the harvest is almost complete. The flow continues as I pull a few girls aside to harvest in another greenhouse and work with another few to move around drip irrigation lines. Then it really starts raining, and all the field groups come wandering back to the tool shed. There's a half hour left, and we sneak into the last greenhouse, all together, to weed a bed of overwintered beets under cover. They finish strong, relatively dry, and altogether positive for such a chilly wet morning. And for what it's worth, I mentally tick off four items on the ol' list. Four left to roll into next week's list, which I already have swirling around in my head...