Melon mornings

Melon mornings

“You’re having a melon morning!” I joke as I walk back toward the tool shed. I’ve left Casey near the farm stand with a pallet of cantaloupes, Israeli melons, and watermelons to wipe clean and set aside fifty more for our CSA boxes this week. First thing in the day, he got the pallet ready with empty crates and I drove it out to the melon patch, him running behind the dust and clatter of the tractor. He caught on fast to harvest: the skin color shifts from green to yellow on the green-fleshed Israeli melons, and the fruit easily falls off the stem with a small amount of pressure. We hunched down the rows, me in the cantaloupes, him in the other melons, and harvested a few crates of watermelons— which I insisted on choosing since they’re sticking to the vine even when they’re ripe— together. After a chaotic return among the hubbub of a large volunteer group of Willamalane (Springfield Parks and Rec) staff, Casey had a bucket of water, a rag to wipe down the melons, and a clear idea of which sizes to keep for CSA.

Read More

A young farmer

Christopher's slurping from the side of a green melon as I get up from my lunch time resting spot in the orchard.  He's gnawing on it from the side, looking out over the youth farmer gardens.

"Is that melon from your garden?" I ask.

"Yeah, it is!" 

"Sweet, that's awesome."  He nods, keeps gnawing, looking kind of unsatisfied.  It looks a little underripe from the deep green of the exterior.  I was headed back to the picnic tables to start getting ready for the afternoon's projects, but I decide to linger for a bit.

Read More

Animal encounters

Animal encounters

Two animals ended up in black trash bags by the end of the day.  For all the plant life we nurture and control on the farm, there usually isn't much animal life to speak of.  Richard's two "guard" dogs that live on site might have something to do with it.  There are rodents off and on, lots of snakes, a stray cat or two that lay low and scurry away whenever I spot them, and all manner of spiders and insects.  But big animals (besides the human variety) are rare.  So to have two close encounters in one day overshadows any of the other highlights of the day I can imagine.

Read More

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.

Read More

Preparing for squash

Preparing for squash

It sounded so easy: "Transplant the winter squash."  They've been ready for a week or two already, so what's the big deal?  Just pop 'em in the ground.  

After a full week of trying to get such a seemingly simple project done, I am humbled.  Yes, amazed by how much zucchini is coming out of the fields, dumbfounded by how fast weeds are growing, impressed by the skill and pace of all the interns, and surprised by how much time irrigation management takes.  But mostly, I am humbled by this project that's not even close to done on the eve of our last chance for the week.

Read More