Farm Fest

The annual Farm Fest on Saturday was a hoot— the only day of the year that I get to hang out on the farm, not feel like I need to be doing anything in particular, and really chat with people. I spent the morning harvesting more flowers and making bouquets while the stand got set up, youth farmers set up infrastructure for the music, seating, cider pressing, and kids’ activities, and Jen coordinated the chopping and displaying of a couple dozen varieties of tomatoes for tasting. Attendance was a low, steady flow of regular farm stand and CSA customers, people with little kids running around, FOOD for Lane County staff and board members, and folks who just happened upon it for the first time— a now regular occurrence at the markets.

The cider was shockingly (as it tends to be, despite trying it every year) flavorful and thick— a distillation of all that sunlight-turned-sugar with a strong dose of pome flavor. The tomatoes were shockingly bright, tart, sweet— numbing my tongue after a few tastes and then reinvigorating it every time I went back with a fresh pallet. Zing! The farm stand display barely fit on even an extended line of tables out front— the season is abundant and we’re in the exact moment of overlap between summer and fall crops, when eggplants and strawberries shine beside the dried onions and winter squash.

To share it all makes me proud, and to see how much people appreciate it and are wowed by the farm makes me grateful that I’m such an integral part of it.

Let the beauty of what we love be what we do

-Rumi

Photojournal: Nature's first green is gold

Photojournal: Nature's first green is gold

Early mornings are becoming more golden as the summer wears off.  This is a short photo journal of a Saturday morning of harvest for the farm stand.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

-Robert Frost

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A week in brief

A week in brief

This is why I've been forcing myself to write every day: because when I set out to document and reflect on an entire week that's somehow slipped past me, the task seems impossible.  There are so many details and conversations and colors and projects that happen in one hour, let alone one day-- and forget one whole week!-- that to try to encompass the whole will be woefully inadequate.  Nonetheless, I guess, I'll persist.

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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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Market zone, part four

Market zone, part four

We got the stand up and running in parts one and two, delivered restaurant orders and picked up CSA totes in part three, and I'm back at the farm.  Out of market zone for just a couple hours.  This week after eating my lunch in the shade, I find the group of interns and Americorps volunteers pulling up the last of the garlic and shallots in the third field.  They look hot and tired, but are in good spirits, and seem excited to take a break for a field walk.  This window on Thursday afternoons is often the best time to do a class or workshop, when we've gotten a lot done for the week and can take a break to dive in to a farming topic.

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Market zone, part three

Market zone, part three

Although I was much more in and out of Market Zone than I am during normal weeks, I was still in it enough to continue the story from Part One and Part Two:

The stand is up.  This week, we miraculously finish with 10-15 minutes to spare, so everyone jumps in help weigh out zucchinis, carrots, beets, and cauliflower for restaurant orders.  We keep regular accounts with 100 Mile Bakery in downtown Springfield, as well as Ciao Pizza on Gateway Road, and I pretty much always end up filling them last-minute once the market is ready.  We choose the highest quality bunches, best looking zucchini, and throw in a few extra leaves of spinach rather than risk short-changing them.  On the one hand, these types of orders would be the best candidates to get imperfect produce, since they'll chop it up and cook it before anyone else sees it, but I tend to reserve the highest quality for them since a) they order reliably every week, b) we're selecting it for them-- they don't have the opportunity to choose between bunches like our market customers, c) they could start ordering from other farms if our quality lags, and d) there's just a degree of professionalism and quality that exists in the industry, and I want us to stand out. 

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Market zone, part two

Market zone, part two

In continuation of last weeks's Market Zone Part One post....

I beep the horn a few times as I pull past Michael in the red truck.  Two interns have already left to open the driveway at the hospital, and two youth farmers are following behind Michael to meet us there. A basket flies off the truck as I cruise down Game Farm Road, and I look back in the rearview mirror to see Michael pulling over and running out to grab it.  Got my back.  It's in, and we're off again.

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Market zone, part one

I hardly see the farm or get to work with the crew on Thursdays.  I'm at the warehouse mid morning to pick up the market truck, leftover CSA totes, and a road sign to set out near the hospital.  By eleven o'clock, I'm usually arriving at the farm, saying a quick hello to whoever might be washing produce up front, then diving into what I call "market zone".  It's a fun zone, and it feels entirely separate from the workings of the farm despite being intimately reliant on them.

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Five stories

"I showed up around ten o'clock for my environmental studies class assignment.  I had a hard time waking up, and the sun felt really intense even by mid morning.  A woman showed us around for a while, and I tried raw kale for the first time.  It was actually pretty good.  Leafy tasting.  I volunteered to thin apples before I knew what it meant, and I was happy I did: I got to be in the shade most of the morning, just cutting baby apples off the branches to make better fruit.  I even climbed up into some of the trees, and for a few minutes I forgot all about my classes and final projects-- the sound of apples plopping onto the tarp, light filtering through the leaves, birds chirping nearby.  What a relief."

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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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