With the quick approaching beginning of the main CSA season I take a deep breath. So many people have been subjected to my metaphors and analogies that I have to apologize if these two are familiar. In terms of the seasonality of this business and lifestyle I think about things in these terms: Spring is the season of promise. Summer is the season of reality. Fall is the season of reprieve and taking stock. And Winter is the season of rest and forward thinking. With spring rolling out ahead of us I picture a road that runs straight to summer. Spring is perhaps our most ephemeral season in New England. Some years it seems like we go from Winter to Summer. This year it seems to me that we have had something like a definable spring with cold fluctuations (in particular in April, ouch cold!) mixed with warmer, bud-popping days. The lemon-green spring leafs seem to be lingering a little longer before they push into their fully operational summer sheen of waxy forest green. My friends Gus and Neil and I went up to Maine so they could pick-up some apple trees. I on a whim bought an English plum which is just starting to leaf out now.
Another analogy I like to use to help me contextualize my life and explain the seasons in terms of farming is the Roller Coaster story. In the winter and the spring we (being farmers) are building the roller coaster. You do your best to make sure you have all your tracks in place, all your hardware tightened down. Every nut has it’s washer and every hydraulic line has it’s gasket. Every thing is in place and the safety equipment is functional and the people you hired to maintain the equipment are competent. Then you ride it. You spend the rest of the year riding the roller coaster you built in the spring. Hopefully it stays together because it’s difficult to work on the track while you’re riding in the car. When winter comes and the train finally comes to that jaulting halt at the end you hopefully can look back and see the tracks all still standing and (even better!) in a stronger position to build upon next year.
So we roll into summer happy and hopeful that we have our ship tacked together well enough to carry us smoothly. Farming, when the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed can be smooth and consistent. When things are not tended they quickly devolve into frustration and disappointment. I am so excited about all the goals we are working towards this year on the farm from installing perennial raised beds for all our vegetables to building a new tool shed and lunch room and high tunnel to planting some of our first perennial crops (asparagus, strawberries, horseradish, elderberries!). We have expanded some of our vegetable crops to include more variety and longer seasons for certain crops as well as put in more long-term storage crops to include in our Winter CSA.
It’s amazing to think that this time last year we had no power, basically no water, no functional buildings, and barely functional fields. Now we are living on the farm, do our own seed propagation on site, have two new out buildings, have irrigation access to all corners of the farm, and have the opportunity to plant long-term crops. Our fields are being managed to accommodate the farms high spring water table and our soil fertility is improving with each successive crop. When I look back at the wild ride that was 2017 I wonder how we managed not to go flying off the roller coaster track. This year the promise of spring is a promise of consistency, more growth as people and place and lots of nourishing food for our friends and neighbors. Here’s to hope and to the unexpected. Good luck Everyone in 2018! – John