Welcome to Farming!
Winter. Tea in hand, farmer curls up by the fire, thumbs through seed catalogues and dreams leisurely dreams about the harvest yet to come. Snow falls quietly. Begin nap sequence.
Winter. Awash in a laptop’s electronic glow, farmer squints for days on end at Excel spreadsheets, puzzling over whether 24 tomato plants will feed 40 people for 8 weeks. (Best make it 30 plants.) And which varieties are the tastiest? And won’t wither in our New England climate? And when to start the seeds that will become the plants that ensure our members a varied and bountiful supply each week?
And that’s just tomatoes. Multiply that fun exercise by 120 varieties of 42 types of vegetables and then try to cram all this into 1.5 acres and you’ll get a sense for what this farmer has been up to with his winter “time off.”
But I’m pleased to say the plans are perfectly complete – on paper, anyway. Currently, our farm fits neatly in a few boxes on our porch. Inside them, thousands of seeds wait for the first kiss of sun and wet. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, for starters, our greenhouse could implode. That happened. The same snow that’s held us hostage all winter created mischief at the farm where an avalanche from an adjacent roof gave our pretty little hoop house a makeover. Now it resembles a whale carcass, all rib cage and shredded skin.
How’s that for a warm welcome to farming?
With one week before the first seeds have to be planted, Dina and I are scrambling for alternatives. But we’re not without hope. Our vision for a community-focused CSA has met with overwhelming support from our neighbors. After a door-to-door campaign the Fuller Brush Man would be proud of, all 40+ shares sold within a month and the waitlist is growing every week. During our furious canvassing, we met beekeepers, beer brewers and many a fellow gardener. We were invited to latke parties, looked through family albums and received multiple offers of baby-sitting. During a recent blizzard, one CSA member showed up on our doorstep bearing two bottles of homemade mead. All but a few of our members live within shouting distance of our house and most of them have never been part of a farm share before.
We’re bursting with excitement (and not a little anxiety) about all the veggies we have yet to grow. A metric ton of compost arrives tomorrow, our 1971 Farmall Cub tractor arrives next week, and in a few short months, our yard will be full of strangers becoming neighbors and we’ll all stuff our refrigerators to overflowing with beautiful produce.
That’s the vision. Now, where’s that new greenhouse?!!