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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Harvest.

harvesting spinach, june 2012
The Harvest.

When I describe farming, or what I do in the course of the day or week, I often describe the planting, the weeding, or the tractor work.  Maybe I will describe setting up the cultivating tractor, or pounding stakes with volunteers on a sticky summer day.  There is a finely woven fabric of a multitude of tasks that make up a day, week or season on the farm.  But, in truth, what I do, most of the time, is harvest.  We do so much harvesting here that it almost becomes invisible, like breathing, or just a part of my daily routine, like waking up and making coffee. 

Here at Powisset we harvest four or five or sometimes six days each week.  Our harvest mornings look something like this:  we meet at 7am to discuss what we will pick for the day.  We decide how many items to harvest, and how much of each we will be picking.  We may be picking for our CSA, or for the farm stand, or for our wholesales, or for our ReVision Urban Farm CSA partnership, or for donations.  We decide how we will pick each crop—by weight, or bin, or in bunches.  By 7:15am, we are loading the farm truck with bins of all sizes, pulling on rain gear to avoid dewy pants and are heading to the fields to begin the harvesting. 

The greens have to come out first, to avoid wilting.  We like to start with lettuce—we usually pick about 300 heads of lettuce every other day.  Then we race from crop to crop, trying to organize our picking efficiently, keeping tender crops in the sun for as short a time as possible.  Seeing the crew in action is like watching a finely choreographed dance—people moving in similar ways, pulling and bunching and lifting and moving on to the next dance.  One of our crew members acts as the conductor to these movements, keeping everything flowing and moving in one direction: out of the field.

As the picking continues, some of the team begins the washing and packing.  Everything is sprayed or dunked or put through the root washer and then re-packed into clean bins, and brought into the distribution barn, or into the cooler.  The truck is making dozens of trips to and from the fields, loading it up, emptying into the wash area and again and again.  Each harvest day, we conservatively pick and process about 2000 pounds of produce; more as the heavier items and fruits begin to be harvested.  We do this four days each week.  Our goal each harvest day is to be finished by 12:30pm, simply so we can do something other than harvest in the afternoon—like all the other field work that has to get done.

The harvest.  We grow food to pick food, to eat food.  It is all about the harvest.  We could have the most amazing, weed free beds of carrots out in those fields that are a beauty to behold by this farmer.  But, really, we are growing those carrots to one day bunch and distribute the shining roots.  Last week, it was 8am, I was in my yellow rain pants, kneeling in the soft cool mud of our first carrot planting.  Rubber bands were stretched up my arm and I was picking my first bunch of carrots for our 2012 season. 

See you in the fields, (you can find me harvesting)

Meryl (on behalf of the Powisset farm crew)

What's in the share:

Up at the barn:  lettuce, summer squash/zucchini, beets, carrots, new potatoes!, choice of cooking green: (kale, collards, tatsoi), choice of herb bunch

in the fields: peas and fava beans!

Know your farmers!

Who is growing all this delicious food for you? Who are the people lovingly tending to this crops both in and out of the fields? See our bios below to meet your full-time farm crew:

jess clancy
 Jess fell in love with farming on a small blueberry farm in Oregon.  It was a bit of a surprise. Growing up outside Chicago to non-gardening parents, she can still remember feeling suspicious of the neighbor's backyard tomatoes.   Convinced she was a city girl, she went to school in New York City to study environmental chemistry but decided working in labs was not for her.  She likes that working on farms lets her think about the connections between farming, social justice, and the environment, all while getting her hands dirty.  After seasons in  Oregon, Wisconsin, and western Mass, Jess is excited to be a part of the super fun Powisset crew.  When not farming she enjoys playing volleyball, learning about medicinal plants, and finding new and interesting ways to cook her favorite vegetable—kale!

jon belcher
Jonathan Belcher was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but I’m not that guy. However, I like to think we probably grew food in similar ways. Of all that I have done, growing food is what I feel the most passionate about. I am a twenty four year old who has tried many things before discovering farming as a trade. From being a collegiate cyclocross champion at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado to competing as a speedskater with the Bay State Speedskating Club, I have seen many parts of the United States. First an automotive technician then an exercise science major and now I am a graduate with a sustainable agricultural degree who feels fortunate to be an actual farmer. My most recent goal is to become a farmer/model.  Not a model farmer, well not yet anyway. I hope to succeed in the fashion industry and also farm as a living. I believe in doing what you want to do when you want to do it. Some of my words include Explore, Meet, Laugh, Love, and Dance!!
Growing up I was planning on being a professional cyclist, traveling around Europe with an international cycling team living off money from sponsors as well as any prize money, but that was not my destiny. Anyway, after getting completely burned out with cycling I started to rethink my motives. I moved home to South Walpole and applied to Sterling College in Craftsbury, VT. It only took a month of living in the North East Kingdom to discover my passion for agriculture. The local farmers as well as my instructors taught me so much about the lifestyle, business, and hard work that comes with being a farmer – what they didn’t have to tell me about was the tremendous sense of accomplishment that I feel at the finish of each day.
At Powisset Farm I am one of the three apprentices and one of the two that live here at the farm. It is so great having the farm in my backyard because it really feels like my own. Also not having a commute gives me time to do other things with the rest of my days. I enjoy playing mandolin, cooking, and going out with friends. I love bringing friends and family to the farm. They are always blown away by everything here and it makes me realize what a special place this is. I feel so lucky to be a part of this farm crew and I am looking forward to a fun and productive rest of the season.  Come over and hang out with us! 

jen kenyan
 Jen Kenyan is happy to be returning for her second season on the Powisset Farm crew! In addition to continuing to learn and gain experience growing veggies for the CSA, Jen is excited to expand her knowledge of growing flowers, from start to finish. Over the winter, Jen worked with the farm managers to plan the CSA flower garden- from researching flowers, attending workshops, ordering seeds, crop planning and planting to harvesting, arrangement and sales, and more! She is also helping with cut flowers grown in the field and bouquets for the farm stand. Jen is grateful for this new opportunity to expand her growing resume and looks forward to seeing the many beautiful flowers (and photos!) that emerge this season.

tessa pechenik
Hello! My name is Tessa and I’m thrilled to be back at Powisset for my
third season.

I first came to the farm as a volunteer in 2009, and those late summer afternoons in the fields quickly became a happy addiction that I couldn’t resist. With the help of the patient farm crew, I learned how to seed in the greenhouse; how to wield a hoe in the war against weeds; how to carry bulging bags of onions out the field when a sudden
downpour interrupts a harvest; and how to really taste and appreciate food when it is grown with such care. A few seasons down the road, and the learning process is still my constant shadow on the farm. Each day I’m grateful for new lessons and mistakes.  It’s no wonder that once I
started to spend time here, I dug in my heels and refused to budge.

My favorite tasks include harvesting kale in the early morning -rapidly snapping off crisp stems and gathering the leaves that still hold dew; anything to do with hot peppers, which I think are beautiful and present exciting culinary possibilities; and processing onions - each allium globe always seems to glow from the inside. And tractor work, of course. Any time I can be driving around the fields on an ancient piece of farming history, I’m thrilled. Everyone looks good on a tractor.

When I’m not at the farm, I’m usually at home in JP, likely walking around with my partner, Reuben. We’ve lived in JP for a few years now. Before that, I worked and lived in Washington, DC, a city I genuinely miss, although not as much as I miss my hometown, Oakland, California. But the seasonal cycles of New England, which play out so beautifully at Powisset, are irresistible, and come summer in the farm fields, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

meryl latronica
My name is Meryl LaTronica.  I have been farming at Powisset farm for six years now and farming in eastern Massachusetts for ten.  I was raised in Holliston, MA so coming to farm at Powisset felt like returning to my roots!  I attended Simmons College in Boston, and did quite a bit of traveling during and after college, mostly to the west coast, Mexico and New Mexico.  When i'm not farming, or working on tractors, or thinking about vegetables; i am walking in the woods with my dog henry, doing a cooking project, or rocking out on the drums!  I love sharing meals and community with friends and family and can't think of any thing i would rather do, than farm! 

1 comment:

  1. A truly phenomenal crew! The farm is in good hands.