Monday, August 11, 2008

Week 10--Apprentice Amanda's Take on the Farm

Throughout the summer, I have occasionally found it necessary to go “off farm” for the day to maintain the relationships in my life that involve people rather than produce. Although the joy of seeing friends and family is enough to motivate me to drive many hours across New England, there is always a note of anxiety as I pull away from Broadturn Farm. I try to stuff my car with as many vegetables, eggs and dairy products to last me my time away but, invariably, there come the time when I must stare pasteurized milk or margarine in the face.

I recently took an entire week off to spend some vacation time with my family on a lake near Rangeley. Although my schedule was my own and there were no animals to feed or vegetables to harvest, I popped awake at 5am anyway, ready to get up and move. At first, it was luxurious to sneak back down under the covers for a few extra hours of sleep or spend the entire morning reading and drinking coffee, but after a few days, my fingers started to tingle with the need for work.

I went off to the woods on a foraging trip for wild raspberries.

I settled into the berry picking zone I became accustomed to during strawberry season and filled my bowl while dreaming of extravagant creations—pancakes, pies, jams and crisps. Soon after, however, my legs started to twitch. Without the dozens of trips running back to the house from the fields to retrieve a forgotten tool and the constant movement of weeding an entire quarter-acre in one day, my body craved "real" work. I tried runs, walks, bikes and swims yet nothing made me quite as tired as a day in the field. I helplessly watched as my feet and hands became clean (for the first time all summer) and my calluses began to come off.

I returned to the farm astounded at how much had changed in one week. There were foot-tall weeds in places I had expertly weeded before I left, the farm camp roosters had tripled in size and the sunflowers had grown several feet at least. Flora, it seemed, was a whole new person—a much more
grown up young lady than when I had seen her just seven days before. I had to spend a day figuring out the new routines of chores and catch up on a week’s worth of gossip. I slept easily each night, my feet and hands once again filthy.My vacation was, perhaps, a trial run for leaving the farm at the end of the summer. It is now all too evident that the two weeks I have left working here will fly by. I am dumbfounded at how quickly this summer has gone. It seems like not so long ago that the tomatoes were seedlings in the greenhouse yet now they are graceful plants, taller than me, and beginning to blush with the first fruit. All too soon I will return to my winter-life at college and spend my time daydreaming of Dulcie.

I must soak up as much of these last weeks as possible—stuff my belly with veggies and milk much as I did in my first week, amazed at the delicious food and attempting to soak up nutrients for my dining-hall-fed body. Broadturn Farm is already in my pantry in the form of strawberry rhubarb jam and I now feel the need to make as many pickles and dilly beans as possible to last me through the Vermont winter.

It is fun to realize that even when I leave, my messy fingerprints will be stamped across the farm. Either literally in the case of roofing tar on the apprentice cabins Tim and I roofed or more symbolically in the case of produce I planted but will not get to eat. I love to think that come October, while I am writing term papers and cramming for tests, CSA distributions will be full of winter squash and kale I planted and weeded in June. I wish you all a wonderful autumn full of romps across this great state of Maine. It has been a joy to grow food for you this summer.


This week's harvest:
red cabbage / pac choi
broccoli raab
green beans

A note on the rain....the lack of sunshine and the overwhelming amount of rainfall are affecting fruiting plants who need the light and sun to encourage pollinators and fruiting to occur. As a result, the tomatoes are coming but are slow to ripen and some of the summer curcubits (squash, cukes) are struggling to get pollinated and set fruit that doesn't mold. We are hopeful that the sun returns in short order and the retreat of wet weather allows the garden to dry out.

Upcoming events here at the farm....
Sunday, August 17th, weeding work party 1-3
Tuesday, September 9th, Potato digging potluck work party 4-7:30
Saturday, October 18th 1-3 garden clean-up work party

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