Forgettable injuries

….These are the everyday scrapes and bruises that tend to disappear from my memory as soon as they're healed.  For some reason, some of them linger, even after I can see no sign of them on my skin.  That fist scrape is completely invisible now.  Not even a scar.  The one still healing on my knuckle will fully fade in just a couple more weeks.  Like it never happened. 

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Reflections on running the farm

There are these special weeks, sprinkled throughout the year, when Ted goes on vacation and I'm left to manage the farm.  A lot of people have asked me what that really means.  What's really different?  There are obvious answers, and there are many ways that simply having another highly skilled person on the farm allows us to do twice as much each week.  Beyond that, there's a shift that nothing short of running the farm would create.

So, what's different about running-- versus assistant managing-- the farm?

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Transforming the food system in the cilantro bed

We got to talking. Over cutting salad mix, about families and efficiency.  Over sorting carrots, about Sloppy Joe's and imperfect produce.  We got to talking about all kinds of things on our feed walk in the afternoon: timing of flame weeding, pruning and grafting tomatoes, the farm's weed "seed bank."  I often have trouble fully listening and conversing when I'm working with my hands-- I tend to focus on the carrots.  Over bunching cilantro way out in the corner of the farm, though, one conversation pulled me deep in.

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Stretching with the crew

"How about, what store do you shop at?"  Everyone hesitates and looks around.  I know there's going to be questions like this.  Do you like red or green apples better?  What time do you wake up every day?  But not today, so early in the season.  "Come on, how about something a little deeper?" I step in.  "Just a little?"  Eventually someone suggests talking about what we've learned and how we've grown over this past school year for the morning stretching circle talk, and we begin.

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First tastes

First tastes

Consider the tomato.

It's been a long time coming, and I've written a hell of a lot about them.

From planting and keeping the first seedlings alive in freezing nights of February to grafting baby Big Beefs onto rootstock plants in March, running out of room for them and marveling at how quickly their scars healed in April to pruning and trellising the quick-growing plants in May, it's been a long time coming. 

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A fragile organism

A fragile organism

Though I fiercely hate to admit it, I'm a fragile organism.

I woke up feeling strong on Saturday.  Got myself ready for the day, ate some food, jetted off to get to the farm around 7:30am.  I was ready to tackle anything, and I did.  I harvested totes of kale, chard, collards, and cilantro while Ted and the farm stand managers set up the market.  As the youth crew arrived, I was finishing up my bunches and bringing them to the stand, going back to the field to harvest more broccoli for the display.  I started feeling nauseous, cringing whenever I put any attention on my gut.  So I focused on harvest instead: bending up and down, cutting, counting, and carrying totes.  There was enough to distract me.

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Learning agronomy

Here's the trouble.  We have about eight new beds ready for planting tomorrow, and at least twenty beds worth of plants ready to get in the ground in the next week.  The cover crop in the Final Frontier field-- the next hope for making plantable beds-- was a jungle of tangled peas, vetch, and rye grass just a few days ago.  It's now desiccating atop a rock-hard plate of dry soil, and all its nitrogen will continue rapidly escaping back into the atmosphere until we can till.  We can't till until we irrigate to get the right moisture level, and then there's a couple days' window to incorporate the organic matter before the soil's too dry again.  We missed the window in one section already, and we need to keep the process in motion-- while keeping everything else on the farm watered with a limited number of irrigation lines-- until all that crop is mixed underground.  And even then, we wait.  One to two weeks for the crop to decompose enough to make fine beds.  Hours and days while harvest takes priority, training new volunteers draws us away from the tractor, and broken sprinkler heads foil our plans to irrigate on time.  We'll get there, but it'll be close.

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Detritus

Detritus

In the midst of harvesting cratefuls of colorful vegetables buzzing with life, gathering materials to proudly display the bounty at tomorrow's stand- our first real day of harvest for the 2018 market season- I'm struck by a very different kind of energy. 

Garbage.  Chaos.  Detritus.  It's everywhere, creeping in under in the benches, behind the sheds, collecting a special kind of dust that only farms can produce.  It's in my way, it's attracting flies, it's an eyesore.  It's depressing, all those broken supplies, waiting to go to the landfill.  It's a wonder they don't drown us, all the random accumulations of stuff. 

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”

- Gary Snyder in "Turtle Island"

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The Why

The Why

I'm thinking about questions.  How I think of them, how I ask them, how I answer them for others, how I receive answers from others.  After eating my lunch, I strolled around the orchard for a few minutes instead of diving straight back into work.  Yesterday, driving the tractor slowly back and forth across the edge of the first field, I had noticed that the large plum trees hovering over me were nearly bare of fruit.  It stuck in my memory.  I was refreshed from eating and lying down a minute, my mind was at ease with my goals for the rest of the day, and I gave myself time to investigate. 

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