An incomplete cast

An incomplete cast

Alice and Phillip.  Last I saw them, they were lounging in camp chairs in the evening sunshine, listening to podcasts and chatting with passerby about the upcoming sale.  When I arrive in the morning, they're standing near where they camped out to "guard" the sale, sipping coffee from their thermoses and cracking jokes with a few other early volunteers.  They tell us about the neighborhood kids who played on the straw bales in the evening and declared that this sale should happen every day.  They make sure we're set to go for the morning before bowing out to enjoy the day elsewhere.  They've already done so much.

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What we bring

What we bring

I'm watering the plant sale starts on their new benches outside the greenhouse.  To my left I can see a few shoulders shifting back and forth in front of the tool shed, apprentices from Horton Road Farm on a tour with Ted.  I look up, straight across the picnic tables and gravel road, and spot Michael over near the compost pile, swinging a weed whacker back and forth among the grasses and blackberries.  Except he isn't just swinging it.  He's full-on dancing!

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Eighteen hands

Eighteen hands

Eighteen hands on the farm.  Holding coffee mugs, slathering sunscreen over bare arms, gesturing and waving in the morning.  Hands to open bolts first thing, and different hands to lock back up at day's end.  Hands to hold ladders, tie knots, write bold black letters on white sticks.  Hands always moving, and eyes watching to keep them moving right.  


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Winter's passed

Winter's passed

I think we made it.  Through winter.  I mean, I don't think it's coming back.  It hit me, not earlier this week when I was sweating in a T-shirt or burning the back of my neck in the summery sunshine.  It hit me this evening, when I was walking my friend's dogs in Westmoreland Park, looking toward a rainbow stretching up from a field of camas and buttercup, realizing I was wearing only a thin sweatshirt a few hours after a thunderous downpour.  Just a few weeks ago, such a rain would have chilled me to the bone.  There wouldn't have been any tulips to catch those droplets, or steam swimming up off the freshly tilled fields as the sun shone through the thunderheads.  There's still a couple weeks until the average last frost date here, but this feeling of relief-- six months in the making-- is too great to let that sway me.  Winter's passed, I say!  We made it.

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Plants to the people

Plants to the people

I had to wait a couple days to write about the plant sale, and I'm glad I did.  People keep asking me how it went, and I've narrowed down my telling to a few key details: the weather cooperated for the morning with sunshine and wind, an impressive amount of people came out considering the dismal weather forecast, there were the perfect amount of people helping out throughout the day, and we ended up breaking our sales record by the end of it all.  We've gotten it to run as smoothly as possible, people gave us great feedback about the plants, and I was personally quite happy to be healthy and have a voice, unlike last year.

That's the short story, and I'm not going to drag into the long story here.  Instead, I'm imagining how all those baby plants are doing in their new homes. 

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Behind the plant sale scenes

Behind the plant sale scenes

This weekend has been approaching, steadily in the background, all season.  As I've pruned fruit trees, seeded veggies for the farm, transplanted 150-foot beds of onions and made batch after batch of potting soil, I've felt it getting closer.  The anticipation felt light and abstract in early February, when we had a series of seeding parties with Grassroots volunteers.  Lettuce and chard seeds were dropped carefully into six-pack trays, covered with soil, and arranged on our nursery benches to germinate.  As the weeks passed, I got to watch them grow as I passed through the nursery with a sprayer hose every day.  When the nursery filled up, we moved the cold-hardy seedlings next door to the overflow greenhouse, and kept seeding more and more.  I spent days with interns and volunteers thinning and pricking out the trays to make sure every six pack was full, and every plant had the space it needed.  Soon after that process, we started labelling each little pot with a white tag to identify its species and variety.  The plants grew slowly at first in this cold spring.  We managed the greenhouse doors carefully to keep them as warm as possible, and just a week or two ago, they finally popped.  They're beautiful.  They're ready for the annual Spring Plant Sale tomorrow.

And the forecast calls for 20-30 mile per hour winds and an inch of rain.

Oh, well.  At least we got to enjoy the sunshine today while it lasted.

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