If you haven’t heard me say it before, this is the most challenging time of year to grow. The crops that love the cool weather, that we’ll harvest from all Winter long, and constitute a majority of our income no less, struggle as seedlings in the relentless heat. Add to that, the daylight is beginning to noticeably fade, which means the window for sowing seeds, planting outdoors, or correcting mistakes is narrowing. IE carrots sown two weeks apart in Spring will be ready within three days of each other, but two weeks in the Fall can make the difference between a harvestable crop or losing it to Winter altogether. Needless to say, the stakes are high.
I’m relieved I didn’t post the newsletter when I should have, last Thursday, because it may have been nothing but expletives. Mid-August on a small, year-round, vegetable farm can be crazy-making. We had just experienced a string of cloudless 100F+ days, watching the storms pass within sight to both the north and the south without a drop of rain, and thoroughly tested the limits of our irrigation (which we’re scheduled to upgrade later in the week, whew). Decisions were made between which crops to save and which we could afford to lose. It can seem like every day in August is a series of fires, both figurative and literal, and some you just have to let burn.
It may be true, [Berry] has a sometimes bucolic idealism about agriculture. Everyone should read some Wendell Berry, it should be required for those who eat, and I truly believe in what he’s getting at here. In order to really care for something, you have to love it. And in order to love it, you have to know it, it must be specific (i.e. think globally, act locally has roots in the same idea). It’s the subtle shift from caring about climate change because it’s the right thing to do for the planet, to caring about climate change because it’s the right thing to do for your grandchildren.
The sunflowers, beautiful as they are, signal it’s time to be thinking about Winter.
Though our bodies just experienced a heat wave, and we’re happily drowning in sunflowers, our minds are fixated on Fall and Winter. As a year-round market farmer, we’re constantly thinking six months ahead.
For everyone who is wondering, Elias and the fam are doing really well. We deeply appreciate all of the words of congratulation, the small gifts, the prepared food, the cups of coffee. Especially the cups of coffee. With most every “how’s the baby?” and “hey, here’s a cup of coffee because you probably need it,” I think about the foundation on which all of this, the farm, the family, the CSA, has been built. I’m not sure I can adequately fit seven+ years worth of farm history into a paragraph to illustrate how great our community really is, but I do want to express our gratitude…
"I just finished listening to a great book, Water In Plain Sight, and the author illustrates how the “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes” will come to be more like five months. The swings between deluge and drought will become longer and more intense. The mitigating factor of whether or not the farms of the not-so-distant future will be able to weather these conditions is organic matter, or soil carbon. It goes deep into how soil carbon can not only mediate between erosion and water-logging, but also hold onto water when the environment is hot and dry. Most of the book is dedicated to how our current agriculture is both the largest contributor to climate change… and has the potential to be it’s best and most lasting solution.
A quick word about what we’re doing here… For years, we’ve sent out a weekly newsletter to our CSA members about what’s been going on around the farm, what veg will be in the CSA, and maybe a few things I’ve been thinking about with regard to the current state of agriculture. It’s as much for myself as it is for them—our CSA folks—because it holds me accountable to do a little writing each week. Writing is a form of thinking, and writing to others makes you organize your ambling thoughts into coherent ones. But, why stop at just CSA members?