Hello, friends of the Colchester Farm CSA! My name is Cara Wagner, and I’m one of the full-season apprentices on the farm this year. I am often out and about taking pictures, and Theresa has asked me to share some of them with you. (I am also devouring the apprentice lending library – stay tuned for posts about what I’ve been reading!) For my first post, I’m thinking back to my first days at the farm in early May, and I confess that this week I’m having a proud ‘Plant-Mom’ moment. On my second full day at the farm (May 10th), Janaki taught me how to use the Earthway seeder to direct-seed a bed of loose-leaf lettuce, five rows, each a different variety. (That day, I also seeded two beds of beans, which have not been quite so successful. Let’s just focus on the lettuce for now.) Last week, I was part of a group that hand-weeded the lettuce, and last Friday, we harvested it for the first time. It was also the bed that I helped harvest today for the Tuesday CSA pick-up and the Kent Island market on Thursday.
It has been an extremely valuable experience for me to have been a part of all aspects of a crop’s production. (Disclaimer: I was by no means the only person who worked with the lettuce, and over the course of the next several months I will see many other crops through the process from seeding to harvesting. This lettuce bed is simply the first crop with which I feel I’ve come full-circle.) This experience is not common in the existing food system, which seems to forge an ever-widening disconnect between producers and consumers. When you enter a supermarket to shop for groceries, you know very little about the full life cycle of the produce – where it came from, who grew it, how they grew it, etc. I admit that, even as someone interested in food systems, I wouldn’t have been able to identify most of our crop plants before I arrived, or how to harvest them, and so on. Actively taking part in the entire process of growing a crop that myself and my fellow apprentices will take to market is, for me, a very empowering process and a means of restoring a personal connection to the food I eat. This is one of the primary reasons I chose to apprentice on a small farm.
I wish you all a wonderful week, and look forward to seeing you at the CSA pick-ups and farmers’ markets. And if you happen to be in the mood for some mixed lettuce this week, remember – it’s lettuce sent with love!