How to make compost

How to make compost

There are ten thousand ways to make compost, which is one reason I love it so much. The idea is simple: put organic materials in a pile, turn it every now and again, and wait. Small life forms, most invisible to our eyes, will do the rest. It’s the best example of how we can work with nature to co-create richness, how we can foster life without controlling it, how a garden takes a small amount of initial energy and multiplies it into more than we could ever create on our own.

And it can be kinda gross. Which is cool!

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Ready for winter

Ready for winter

I’m still blown away by what all can happen on the farm in a week. Rains in the forecast. Blissfully sunny days. An unexpected frost over the weekend. A few sizable volunteer groups. We push, and rearrange projects, and let harvest fall off while we focus on the fields. We woefully sort all the peppers that got zapped by the light freeze, take turns on the tractor to turn in the blackened plants, water the last bits of parched soil to get the moisture right for tilling. We spread manure, chicken pellets, fish meal, or lime over neat mounds or entire sections of flat fields, till it all in, and have to remind ourselves that it’s fall— that these delightfully neat beds ready for planting are not the first of the season, but rather the very last.

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Yes! Deep summer!

Yes!  Deep summer!

I woke up super early on Saturday, excited.  Excited about feeling love, excited for a weekend to come, excited to get the farm stand up and running, excited to work with a small crew of motivated youth farmers.  I've learned again and again that the world gives me back what I bring to it, and today was no exception.  I brought excitement, and the day proved generous and full to meet me.  

Yes, we got the market set up in time, with beautiful mounds of vegetables, glistening deep red strawberries, buckets of flower bouquets.  Yes, we harvested everything we needed to harvest before break time, weeded an overgrown bed of leeks, tilled up a new area to be planted.  Yes, timing was right to get beds shaped, amended with manure and lime, and re-tilled flat for planting.  Yes, enough youth farmers knew how to work with drip tape that I could just explain the goal of finishing the onion field and they were off and running with it without much help.  Yes, the two volunteers that showed up could blend right in with the crew.  

The farm is starting to manage itself.  Yes, yes, yes.

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To offer

With all the daily to-do lists and weekly goals and pushes to finish big projects in farming, I often forget to look back at-- and especially to really appreciate-- my successes.  This morning, I would never have guessed that I would be looking back on the day with pride and joy.  I was in a sour mood.  Lately I've been focusing on some of the things I don't have, and it had caught up to me by this morning.  I could have crawled back into bed and given the leading to others, hid in the weedy onion patch by myself and sulked in my ungrateful thoughts all day.  Even on the brightest morning meeting up with the most positive people, sometimes I'm just caught like that, blind by choice to the good.

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The tractor was running

The tractor was running

While I was potting up tomatoes with volunteers, the tractors were running. 

While I was watering in the heirloom tomatoes, dousing the brassicas that'd been wilting, and unfixing a swath of plastic to let more air flow into the nursery, the tractors were running.

While our program manager, Jen, and I were giving short tours to our youth crew applicants, asking them the same set of questions eleven times over, and thanking them for their time, the tractors were running.

As I closed the nursery back up at the end of the day, spot watered a few trays that looked especially dry, locked up all but one shed, and packed my baseball cap into my bike bag to head home, the tractor was running.

On a day like today, eighty degrees after a week of dry weather and a smattering of rain coming toward us in the next few days, every minute counts. 

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The Black Wave

"Woooohoo!  Who's ready to surf the waaaaaave?!?"  

We've run the rainwater off to the side, straightened the sheet out, spread out to each corner, and it's time.  The Black Wave comes to life just a few times in the spring: when the sky's dry but the fields are still mucky, and the sun plans to stay out for at least a few days.  It's a joyous time of year.  The rains are abetting and we'll be able to get the tractor rolling soon, there's a team of people sprinting up and down the 150-foot-long fields, and the sun is bound to be shining. 

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Good tools

Good tools

I'd like to take this evening to appreciate some of the tools I work with at the farm.  I love working directly with my body and hands, and wouldn't want to farm in a way that replaces all my labor.  That's one of the joys of small scale farming or market gardening: I get to be in there, planting seeds and pulling weeds and tossing handfuls of limestone down each bed to keep the fertility high.  There's nothing like the joy of hand-cutting a head of broccoli or gazing out over a bed of young chard plants I just tucked into the ground, and there's no substitute for physically walking the fields to assess how everything's growing.

But there are also many times that I can't imagine doing a project without the right tools, and others (like today) when I realized how much time and energy I'd wasted using the wrong tools. 

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