After falling to sleep to the sweet and unfamiliar sounds of raindrops on Saturday, I dreamed of water soaked fields and quenched roots, filling and feeding the cells of our needy plants and cracked soil. When morning came, I slowly opened my eyes just a sliver, hoping for gray skies and a sleepy dog, curled beside me. I pulled the floral bedroom curtain aside, really just a square piece of random fabric rummaged from the thrift store, and watched as the sunlight poured into my room, rousing the dog and making me frown just a little. Even though the air felt cool, the sun warm on my face, filling my room with light, I couldn’t help but feel lonesome and left wanting for a really good rainy day.
I didn’t dwell too long in my sunny day pout. The dog barked me right out of bed and we strolled down the farm road, greeting the people picking tomatoes for the preservation class on my way to set up irrigation in our winter radish field. With the water set up and the sun still out, I decided to leave the farm, whose dry soil and aging tomato plants were starting to make me feel a little weary on my one day off. I packed a lunch, grabbed the dog and drove out to Wachusett Mountain. I had never climbed to the top and today was the day.
On the ride out to the nearby peak, listening to a really great Jenny Lewis album that makes me smile and reminds me of my sister, I remember the mountain metaphor that I wrote many years ago and feel compelled to force my farm crew to hear year after year. Several seasons ago I wanted to express to a new crew what was in store for them. Perhaps there isn’t much that can prepare a beginning farmer for the hours of weeding, hot sun, dirty hands and simply exhausted months that they are about to embark on for most of their waking hours. But I wanted to try to give our team the sense of the ups and downs that a farm season can bring. Climbing a mountain, or the entire endeavor of going on a serious mountain climb with a group of strangers, seemed a suitable metaphor.
So at the end of the first week of our farm season each year for the past several years, I read out loud my “mountain metaphor” to our crew. It describes the excitement of a new season and how spring will be filled with getting to know new coworkers and the awkward ways our bodies will readjust to the physical work of farming. It describes early summer and how wonderful it feels to pull the first harvests out of the fields, the feeling of displaying our crops in the barn and sharing the harvest for the first time. I go on to remind (or maybe to reassure) us that at some point in late summer, harvesting that once was so exciting, can feel tedious, difficult or even challenging in its repetitiveness. I may even suggest that the stories and quirks of our co-workers that once seemed so lovely may become somewhat irksome. But, I follow this, with the promise of fall. That the late summer heat, and challenges are lightened once fall arrives. The weeds slow down, the tasks seem (even if they aren’t) less urgent. The chill in the mornings allows for layering in cozy sweaters and hats as we harvest and soon that same lettuce is as beautiful as it once was in the spring. And after fall is winter, the end of a season. A celebration awaits us and a reflection of all the things we loved, all the successes we shared, all the things we learned, all the ways we want to grow, change, improve. And then we plan to do it all again.
I parked my car, let the dog out, pulled my soft, blue backpack out of my car, filled only with water, snacks and an extra sweater and began to climb this small mountain on Sunday. Henry led the way and I followed close behind, focused on each step as I climbed and navigated the slightly steep, rocky trail. The farm season has so many peaks—the first harvest, the first time a new apprentice really learns how to drive a cultivating tractor, the first time we work with our summer crew, the first bite of tomato, the first big broccoli harvest. A Farm isn’t climbing just one mountain. It’s climbing an entire mountain range. Every day, every week, every month there are peaks and views to admire, good snacks to eat at the top. And every day, every week, every month there are those hard climbs, those difficult descents, those challenging moments with your fellow hikers (or weather that just won’t do what you want). I love being on the hike. With every step, I felt focused and proud and satisfied, just like I do during a good day of farming. And I even made it to the top.
See you at the farm, or on the mountain,
Meryl & the Powisset farm crew
What’s in the share:
Full & small: lettuce, choice of greens, potatoes, beets, carrots, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, leeks, onions, (choice for small), popcorn
PYO: cherry toms (almost gone), husk cherries, raspberries, flowers
Hello from the Powisset Farm Kitchen!
We are grateful that so many of your have inquired about using the Farm Kitchen for so many different cooking and food related projects! Whether you want to try a new recipe, bake large quantities of food, we are excited to offer our Farm Kitchen as a community resource! Please join us for “Kitchen Improv” at Powisset Farm. During the hours of our remaining CSA pick-up times we welcome you to use the kitchen for any kind of food production as long as you are not intending to sell what you’re making (we do not yet have the proper licenses to make this happen and we hope to offer this as an option sooner than later). Please fill out the doodle poll to secure your time slot and then email Rachel with what you intend to make/prepare. We look forward to seeing you in the Farm Kitchen! **requests for use of "kitchen improv" time must be approved by farm staff**
Also coming soon to the Farm Kitchen – The next Powisset Cooks Workshop!
Tuesday, September 23 | 5:30-7:30PM
Herbs are one of the many unsung culinary heroes; when used well, herbs can add so much depth and flavor to a dish. Join Powisset Cooks! in the field for a short harvest followed by an exciting hands-on exploration in the kitchen with our Culinary Educator. You will learn new and easy ways to infuse herbs into breads, sauces and more. Limited to 12 participants, so sign up quickly!
Contact Rachel for more information