Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Farmer's Therapist

Many farmers dream of having an on-site mechanic who will diagnose and fix tractors and aging equipment. John Snell, our neighbor at Snell Family Farm has one. 

Our International has been waiting for a grease monkey
Some other farmers we've met take this one step further (or closer as the case may be) by wishing for a chiropractor on staff. Each week everyone gets worked on to ease aches and pains and encourage smart physical habits. Mark and Kristin Kimball of Essex Farm have one.
The harvest hunch
Well, we here at Broadturn Farm believe that every farmer needs a shrink on site. Yes, the tractor might be broken, and our backs might be sore as hell, but so long as we can make ourselves comfortable "on the couch" with a sympathetic ear and an occasionally an encouraging word, the farmers will keep their heads above water.

Perhaps that is at root of why we have a CSA farm in the first place: we used to take advantage of folks coming to pick up their share to tell them about how awful the weather has been, or how horrible the pests are in the fields. But we soon realized that you all are just good-intentioned customers who do not deserve our emotional dump of bad news, so we've learned to be more positive with our CSA members.
I've even been known to vent to the press about (for example) the rain, "It sucks!" They printed that, and no one likes seeing one's problems on the front page, so I have learned to button up when reporters and their paparazzi show up in the dooryard.
Who can we go to when we feel overwhelmed? MOFGA's Eric Sideman is an organic crop specialist who knows everything about diseases, pests, and other problems, and I certainly rely on his consultation, but too many details do not help... details about botrytis leaf blight in the onions, 
powdery mildew in the squash, leaf hoppers, bean beetles, flea beetles, and in the tomatoes alone: late blight, early blight, and septoria leaf spot!   Bugs...
Monster Tomato Hornworm..
...eating our tomatoes
And oh, those weeds! See this week's pest report for a taste of Farmer stress.
No, what we need is a shoulder to cry on. Enter work-share members!
Work-share CSA members are valuable additions to our crew for many reasons. They get the crops harvested with us every Tuesday and Friday. They pick up bread for the pigs on their way out to the farm and they commute Emma to her urban appointments on their way back to town. But this year especially we have been blessed by Farm Shrinks among our work-shares. Let me tell you about two such kind souls.
Colin can whip up sour kraut, and dig potatoes with the best of them, but he can also assuage insecurity through guided meditation, and repair our sometimes broken masculinity with wholesome common sense advice. He is a gem. We love Colin.
Croix  "on the farm-couch"
Kana is another one. She won't slow her pace in the bean field even while her soothing questions target our most profoundly personal life queries. Though she herself is a true intellect (fittingly, a religion scholar) she's humble enough to make us feel really smart, indulging us with conversation all about ourselves. Kana is cool as can be.
Sunny Kana with the Sun-golds
A farm-mechanic or even a farm-masseuse gets beat out by these two farm-coaches. There have been others over the years of course (and others this year), too many to mention. They show up once a week, they feel our pain, but they recognize our progress. With an assuring gesture of support, they depart after a morning of harvest and therapy, and leave a bounty behind for the CSA community.
This week this includes:
Carrots, Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes, Cucumbers, Squashes, Tomatoes, Dill, Beans, Radishes, and Peppers (or Eggplant).
They also leave the farm crew: Andie, Emily, Croix, Stacy, and John, feeling better about the farm. And sometimes they bring donuts.
Thank you!
Blessings on the meal,

1 comment:

  1. I love working with everyone!!! Kana and Colin are the best!!