Sunday, May 16, 2010

Farmer perspective

I'm not doing very well with this blog, but I'll work on getting better.  Things continue to go really well at the farm.  My brother did so well while he was working on the farm as a day laborer that they invited him to be an intern.  It's working out surprisingly well.  He's doing a really good job and he's got a very positive attitude about it, so it looks like being a farmer might stick.  I think it's fantastic that he's found something that he enjoys so much and does well at.  We're getting along well, which I hope continues.

The weather has been really wacky.  It goes from extremely hot days, to more mild, typical spring-like days to cold, ugly, rainy days.  As much as I can tolerate the crazy weather, I'm learning how much the various plants do not like the crazy weather.  I came into this with very little prior knowledge of gardening even, so it's all been fascinating.  There are veggies that the farm grows in the spring specifically because they like, or at least can handle, the cooler weather.  Also apparently the cooler weather protects some of the plants from a variety of pests that strike as it gets warmer.  But, with the unseasonably warm days we've had, those pests are striking early.  The turnip and radish greens are getting attacked by beetles and other bugs as are the roots (which are the vegetables we hope to harvest).  The greens which should have had more freedom to grow are being overrun by grasses and weeds that should be held back by cooler temperatures.  I'm so curious about all this stuff and luckily our farm manager doesn't seem to mind my questions (or at least I hope he doesn't).

I've been officially appointed 'mistress of the wash' (although the title is my own), which means I coordinate and do most of the washing and sorting of the veggies and greens for the markets and stand.  We have a huge salad spinner that we use as part of the process.  We take tubs and tubs of spinach, spring mix, Asian greens, arugula and more and gently rinse them in a sink of water, spin them dry and then bag them up.  During each step of the process we are sorting out any grass or weeds that may have snuck their way in during the harvest.  Because of the weather I mentioned earlier, the sorting process is sometimes time-consuming since there is a lot of weeds that aren't supposed to be included in the spring mix that you want to buy at the farmers' markets.  I actually really like this process and am quite happy to be coordinating the cleaning because I think I'm pretty meticulous and I like making sure things look good for our customers.

This Saturday Jake (my brother) and I worked the Phoenixville Farmers' Market with the farm owner.  It went really well and was a lot of fun.  We have to work very fast to get everything loaded into the van to get down to the market and get set up and we have to work very fast to get everything unloaded at the market.  But, once we are all set up it's easy to get into the rhythm of helping customers and restocking.  There was a good pace of market shoppers this weekend and I got to see a lot of people I know, which was a lot of fun.  Some friends stopped by just to say hi and other people I know from around town just happened by as shoppers.  It's been neat to see people I know from around town and be on the producer side of the market.  The Phoenixville market has a great group of regular shoppers (I used to be one of them) and it's fun to see the other side of that from the farmer perspective.

Speaking of the farmer perspective, I still haven't worked on my writing assignment.  I'm having trouble deciding on a thesis.  What's my point?  What do I want to tell people about all these different sides I've now seen to the local food market that will hopefully be interesting to them?  Suggestions or thoughts on that are welcome.

On a non-farming note, last night I went to the wedding of one of my ex-coworkers.  I didn't get to go to the ceremony, which was a bummer since I heard it was really beautiful.  But, the reception was also beautiful and the food was great.  The bride looked amazing and they did a great job putting together a really fun party.  It was nice to see a bunch of my ex-coworkers again and catch up.  My great friend Sarah was kind enough to loan me a dress, so my outfit for the evening cost me a whopping $20 in accessories from Target.  They had a live band playing and they were really good at doing covers.  It was a fun night to dress up and leave my hair out of a ponytail and curly for the first time in about a month and a half.
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