The following reflections are from May 11, 2013. I arrived on an organic farm in Northeast Connecticut in late April and tried to keep a written record of my experiences from the start. But with 14 hour work days I eventually barely had energy to tuck myself into bed at night, and my writing dwindled. Here I revisit some feelings of triumph after my first couple weeks emerged in food from the ground up.
I think some people are born with the inherent ability to nurture. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I am one of them. Despite being born to a woman who keeps an abundant array of houseplants, a back patio that feels like a botanical garden, and a plentiful garden, I can’t claim to have any natural instinct for gardening. There was a time long ago when after much begging and pleading I convinced my mom to let me cultivate a rose garden in the small plot by our front door steps. She obliged, buying the necessary (and costly) plants, but I quickly became impatient when glorious roses didn’t immediately bloom and the plot quickly became overrun. From then on my contribution to the horticulture world consisted solely of picking the best looking daffodils from our garden and entering them in the annual flower show. Despite a brief stint watering flowers at a local nursery, I never ventured much further into the depths of cultivation.
Now here I am, on 100 acres of rolling countryside and accountable for the well being of thousands of baby plants, seeds and even a fair number of animals. (We have two new calves, Iris and Amber! They are adorably awkward.) With 200 CSA shares being distributed each week, this is well beyond the scale of backyard gardening. We just took a day and a half to plant 1500 strawberry plants (tricky little fellows) and are starting seedlings by the 100s. The monotony of field work can be daunting, especially the moment of looking back on a 500 foot bed and seeing you’ve only planted a quarter of what needs to be done. Or attempting to navigate carrot beds with a wheel hoe and Japanese scythe. But for all the moments of thinking Dear god will it ever end there are just as many moments of mindful understanding that I am giving life. Some days the minutes and hours seem to stretch endlessly, while other times the lunch bell sounds while my head remains in the clouds. The point is, it’s a beautiful and fulfilling thing to know that each day I contribute to a life (even if it’s just a leafy life).