Monday, June 24, 2013

when you love someone...

I'm not married, I don't have kids, I don't have a ('real') job. People must think I have it easy. But I promise, the farm is a relationship like no other. I won't say it's worse than the rest...heck, I'm barely in the dating world these days, so I can barely compare it to anything.

In church last Sunday the preacher was talking about having something so small and innocent can just take everything from you. Energy, sleep, money, time, etc... with absolutely NO return of investment. Except for a return of pure love and joy.

My previous farm manager would constantly tell us she wasn't dating because she was married to the farm. There was no time for anything or anyone else. Alas, I can relate to both of these.

And last week, I'd do what any sane person in a consuming relationship would do...the farm and I took a break. How could I go even say hello to it when it was breaking my heart. I tended hours and hours of backbreaking weeding, yet it stuck its tongue out at me, mockingly, as the weeds overgrew once again. We found tomato leaves on a few plants: diseased. We yanked them. We stepped closer, our noses to the ground, where we found thrips...hundreds of them, frolicking in our dirt...hopping onto our plants. Infesting, tomato plant by tomato plant, they must be. And bed after bed in the field we looked, only to find that these pests were coating our entire field. Somehow most of the plants were surviving, but I still felt defeated. What can we possibly do to save our entire supply of tomatoes?

The markets are getting business, and we're selling more now that we're getting our name out there. Yet still, we need to double sales each week in order to just break even in the end! When I think of it that way, the weeds seem like a waste of time to pull, and the tomato disease seems even more devastating.

Thankfully with 4 partners involved, I was able to step back and find some silver lining again. Maybe we just needed space. I came back today after a huge rainstorm last night, and remembered how much I love this place. I was happy to weed through the jungle and find the hidden, yet strong growing basil. Happy to see that thrips were still happy and frolicking, but at least not spreading more tomato disease (that I can see). And happy to see new seedlings and new colors emerging now that I've been patient.

When you love something, set it free. So they say.

Friday, June 7, 2013

who knew

This is the moment we've all been waiting for...all the months of planning...all the hours of labor...all the thoughts and conversations and disagreements and growth...for the big debut: our first market.

Who knew 9 years ago when I was learning how to make the world's best sandwiches at the local bistro, that today I'd be growing its very ingredients. Who knew 8 years ago when I was designing Ritz Cracker boxes and DiGiorno pizza trucks, that today I'd be avoiding as much of that processed food, especially from big businesses under Monsanto's wing. Who knew 5 years ago when my boyfriend gave me a copper watering can that today I'd be using it to urge seeds to sprout. Who knew 3 years ago when I took a sabbatical from corporate Chicago that today I'd call Colorado my home. Who knew a year ago as an intern that today I'd have a farm of my own. And who knows what will happen in years to come! I have a feeling this will just be a stepping stone to the next great undertaking. Whether or not it's a farm undertaking...well, tomorrow and Saturdays for the next few months will determine that!

If I thought anyone was crazy for working more than 40 hours in the corporate environment, perhaps I have just deemed myself crazier. I had such a great on/off switch, perhaps because I'm so great at conserving energy that I could usually work with the lights off...and could never understand how a picture with 2% more magenta could keep someone awake at night, until I'm wide awake thinking of tomato suckers which account for about 2% of the plant...after I've already put in 60 hours of physical labor for the week. My friends wonder why they haven't seen me in a month. I wonder why I have 'rubber bands' written backwards on my face. Yes, my hand is a great notepad at night...apparently also a great pillow.

So we have sprouted and watered and mulched and weeded and fertilized and pruned and weeded and watered and sung to the plants in the field for over 2 months now. Some couldn't survive the living conditions. Some we forgot about. But the ones that grew, they soared. It's been unbelievable to watch how these tiny seed packets can make a field a little green. And then we harvested. In the field, you can hardly notice we harvested. Yet back at our house, we are overflowing 5 coolers, 2 bins, and a fridge with all these goodies. 50 bunches of arugula, 50 bunches of kale, 30 bunches of broccoli rabe, pounds of spinach, a basket of herbs. It's a blessing to have more than we imagined...I think it will be a great impression for the community to see that it's not just a teeny tiny garden plot.

Our neighbors excitedly come over and ask us about the farm and what we're growing and when it will be ready. Our friends ask how it's going. We post on Facebook, on our website, we have people naturally spread the word, and we have a busy street of passing cars. Will it all be enough?! Tomorrow our hours are 9-noon, or until we sell out. If we sell out fast, we should have more land. If we sell too little, we will be swimming in kale for days. I'm sure it will be somewhere in-between, but who knows! To be continued!!!