Monday, June 7, 2010

Reality Check From Farmer Dan

You might be enjoying this hot spring, thinking it is summer come early, but if you were a farmer or a little seedling you'd be seeing things entirely differently. A few years ago while my husband was going to Smith School for Social Work, we had the good fortune of spending a few summers in Northampton, MA. We have family and friends there, and the number of incredible organic farms around is staggering and thrilling, so despite the uprooting, it was a great time. This is a picture of me and my son last summer on a visit to Brookfield Farm where we used to have a CSA share. Farmer Dan is one of the coolest people I know, and his farm is one of the places on earth that inspires me and brings me peace. I just read his weekly letter from the farm (even though I no longer live up that way I still get his emails, because they make me smile, and keep me keyed in to farm life). I thought his letter was a good reality check for those of us on the purchasing side of the fence to remember what it takes to grow our food.  (I also just like Farmer Dan's sense of humor)

Letter from Farmer Dan  
June 5, 2010 
First week of CSA distribution

Play Ball!

When Tobin went out to the Middle Field to make the furrows for this years' fall broccoli field, we knew we had turned a big corner. After 25 acres of plowed earth, it was time to make the last passes with the moldboard for the season. He plowed it like a pro (after having just learned in April) and headed for home. Then he traded in his plow boots for a harvest knife, and started bringing in the beginning of this years' bounty from the fields. Our entire crew has been working hard all spring to get this farm up and running again, and it's time to finally get this show on the road. Lisa has managed over 250,000 plants in the greenhouse, and planted over 15 acres of crops, Pete has cultivated over a trillion weed seeds into oblivion and made miles of planting beds, and Kerry has kept the grease flowing on all of our trucks, tractors, and tools. Karen has cooked lunch for the crew since April 1, and Abbe has answered at least 722 emails from shareholders about when the first distribution will begin. Well, it's going to begin right now. We're done with Spring Training, it's time to eat some salad, folks.

Someone asked me the other day how the season was going. When I shook my head and told them that this was a miserable spring, they looked at me as if I was crazy. "But, It's been so beautiful and warm" Right? For those of you not trying to coax food from the earth it has been beautiful. Beach weather in April. Hot sunny days to start the swimming season early. Sunny days as far as the eye can see. But for us, the tenders of living plants, we always thrive under conditions which come close to a place of balance. Anything that comes to us in the form of "too much" is just not good. And this Spring has been one version of "too much" after another. First it was too much heat (remember 86F on April 7) which took a lot of moisture from our early transplants. Then it was too much cold (remember 23F on May 11th?) which froze the thirsty little seedlings. Then it was too much sun and heat again (remember 98F on May 28), which kept us irrigating for weeks and put the final nail in the coffin on the Spring spinach. What a beautiful Spring to feel this bad about the weather! you know, farmers can complain about anything (and usually do), but we're ready to stop complaining and start eating. We're not going to have Spring spinach, and our lettuce is taking a while to head-up, but our greens are beautiful and our strawberries are ripe and ready for picking two weeks early, and we're ready to move past this Spring and look ahead towards better things to come.

For those of you who are new to this game of seasonal eating, we start off slow and get you started with salads and greens. Before long the "hard veggies" come in (beets, squash, cabbage, early tomatoes), and then (with a little luck) it's a super-bonanza smorgasbord of fresh eating from your farm. Try to be patient with the pace of our harvest season - it will get more varied and hearty - as the earth and our harvest warm up and bulk up as the season moves along. For now, we hope you enjoy the very fresh Spring greens and see them as hints of things to come. We'll keep you posted in this newsletter with events and happenings around the farm, and hope that you'll let us know if you need anything as the season moves along.

We hope you will use the farm to eat good food all season as well as to picnic, hike, visit with your friends, and commune with the chickens and (eventually) pigs. Welcome (back) to Brookfield Farm and here's to a great season ahead! 

Your Farmer,
(for Karen, Abbe, Kerry, Lisa, Pete, and Tobin)

Here are some pix of the Brookfield Farm from summers past:

Hope you get to enjoy some time on a local farm this season. Even if you live in the heart of Manhattan, there are farms within less than an hour of you (and I'm talking about on the subway!) Check out or just google your town's name and "farms" and go for a visit. CSA stands for "community supported agriculture" which is people buying "shares" in a farm, kind of like a subscription. You get a weekly portion of produce, and often you get to visit the farm and pick some crops too if you want. Happy growing and harvesting!

please share any tips of great farms in your area by leaving a comment below

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing some great writing. Is that your son on Farmer Dan's tractor? Now I know why my spinach is not doing so great.