(and, we hope, the volunteers!)
by Zoë Abram
Welcome back, sunshine and shadows! It feels so good to emerge from the extended wetness of the past month and the winds of the stormier periods. We were far enough East to miss most of the storms; crop loss and damage reports from farms in Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont make us so grateful to see minimal damage in our fields.
Farming during that string of rainy days was a challenge. The washer did many loads of muddy work clothes, and we tried to stay focused and positive, getting the harvests in when we needed to, and finding non-fieldwork tasks when we could. You kept going too! Thank you for braving the rainstorms for pick-ups, for the help setting up the tent and loading and unloading the truck, and for the words of support and questions about how we were doing.
We had to make decisions about what tasks were okay to do in the rain and which would do more harm than good. We felt the sadness of knowing we were potentially spreading disease through wet tomato leaves, but we would waste so many tomatoes if we left the vines alone, and everybody loves tomatoes, so we harvested anyway. There is a buckwheat summer cover crop in several fields, and the rainy period came just when we needed to mow it to prevent it from going to seed in the field. But mowing was impossible; the tractor might get stuck, and worse, the tires compact the soil when wet. We might see some buckwheat growing as a weed in the future as a result. There were many days it was better for us not even to walk in the fields. So, we cut and stored all the garlic that was hanging up to cure.
Walking the fields today, I notice that things look unexpectedly beautiful. The asian greens and mustards are growing quickly in this cooler weather. The thrips that eat at the growing point of the scallions have drowned (or something) so the greens look better than ever. But it’s the craziest thing – to walk around the farm now and see how wild it looks with a few weeks of soil too wet to weed. As the sun dries out the soil, we hope to catch up on some of the field work. Today, with the sun on our backs, we were finally able to weed some of the lettuce mix that is coming in. Even so, it was still too damp to think the weeds might dry out and die in the sun. We carted them in buckets out of the field so they would not re-root and keep growing. Soon it will be dry enough for wheel-hoeing, but for now we hand-weed right around the plants.
There is so much to do and sun brings a new energy! If you are feeling that energy too, or if you want to save the little lettuce and baby broccoli from the big bad grasses that out compete them in the wetness, come join us one day! Weeding is good for mindfulness and clearing stress, for uninterrupted conversations, and for your vitamin D absorption. We would love to have you. We will welcome volunteers in these days of weeding. We work from 7 – 12 and from 1 – 4. (Feel free to come for all or part of the day.) To help with weeding, please come on Monday, Wednesday or Thursday. E-mail me before you come to let me know when you’d like to come out.