When I sat down to start this post Andy was tilling and I had just transplanted cabbage seedlings into one of our hoophouses. Our children were watching our landlord make a trench so we can have power brought to our outbuilding permanently.
I often marvel at the changing face of the farm come spring. In one day, we move a greenhouse on its handy track system, take out kale plants and prepare beds. On other days there is the grand shuffle of trays of seedlings from the germination room to the nursery greenhouse, while more mature seedlings get transplanted.
The longer days bring growth. The remaining kale and collards bud and then flower. They will be removed soon to make room for different crops. We need to manage the growth of grass and weeds as well. We’ve thinned and weeded beets and carrots and have moved our big greenhouse for a second time — off of the lettuce it gave a head start to for a month. That greenhouse will be the home to some of our tomatoes and peppers down the road. The rhubarb we put in just last year has brought us a great crop of long, thick stalks.
I do enjoy spring at the farm very much. There is a lot of good work to be done but the pace is more relaxed than when we are selling vegetables four times a week, like we will be in the summer. The nursery greenhouse is bursting and seeing the seedlings mature is almost magical for me. I am involved in a lot of the seeding and then it is Andy who waters the soil blocks daily and sees the gradual growth. Sometimes I’ll seed a vegetable and then not see it again till it’s time to transplant. “Oh yes, I remember you,” I think.
The other day Andy and I were talking about values and how that which is seen can often be given a lot of importance. People naturally care about what they can see. That got me thinking about our farm and how we very much care for the often unseen or unconsidered things — like soil microbes, earthworms, birds and animals that call the area in which we farm home. We care to build up the soil so that this particular piece of the planet can be nourished, and people in our area can have good, clean, flavourful, nutrient-rich vegetables grown organically by farmers just down the road. We’ve been focusing, this winter and spring, on building up our compost supply. We bought a manure spreader in order to make the jobs of transporting manure and turning our compost pile more manageable. We recognize the need to feed the soil that will nourish the vegetables that sustain us.
People from the Abbotsford and Chilliwack area have been signing up for our CSA this spring. There are a lot of things – both seen and unseen – that are happening when you decide to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture program.
Some things you see include:
-The cash you put in the farmer’s hand in exchange for super fresh vegetables.
-Unique vegetables you get the chance to try, learn about and quite likely come to love.
-You have the unique opportunity to get to know and ask questions of the people who grew your food.
Some unseen things are at play when you sign up for a CSA as well:
–Your membership supports and encourages a local farming family. In British Columbia, more than 50% of farmers are aged 59 and up with less than 5% 34 and younger.* The few farms in our area offering CSAs, that we know about, are run by people in their thirties that seem to be into farming for the long haul. Supporting younger farmers helps secure the availability of the food they grow.
-You contribute to the health of our planet. You participate less in an oil-fueled food system that relies on shipping produce from all over the world. We’re trying to keep things as local as possible and currently sell our vegetables within about 40 kilometers of the farm.
-Your hard-earned cash is funneled into your local economy rather than out of it. If you sign up for our CSA, you support farmers who make purchasing decisions based on buying local, ethical, and fair trade when possible.
So, thanks for your ear. Thanks also for your interest and support of the seen and unseen when it comes to food choices — wherever you may be on that journey.
*according to the Fraser Basin Council’s 2010 Sustainability Snapshot.