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Monday, October 1, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

Last week the big festival tent was set up near the barn. In the early morning, we drove the harvest truck out past the open lawn near the flower garden, and as we pulled back in later to unload, the big canopy of white and green stripes had filled the space - waiting expectantly for festival visitors.

Throughout last week, we finalized plans for Sunday's Fall Fest. We suited up in rain gear to pick apples from the damp grass at a Holliston orchard for the cider press; clipped the tall stalks of the just harvested popcorn to bundle for display; weeded and mowed and tidied the fields and barn for visitors. The trees at the field edges are finally giving up their green leaves to fall colors, and we noted how beautiful the farm is in fall - what a perfect time for an outdoor harvest celebration. 

As the week progressed, the weather hinted that an outdoor festival might need to be relocated inside. Despite crossed fingers and the occasional bargaining, the weather was just not in our favor. The rains came in, we left the big green and white tent empty, and moved the Fall Fest into the barn. The unplanned for drizzle aside, this year's Fall Fest did not disappoint. Brave souls piled into the barn to paint pumpkins, drink hot cider and sit on straw bales to enjoy the music of The Homestead Family Band. 

Visitors arrive at Sunday's Fall Fest
The Fall Fest can be real marker of time for me on the farm. This is my fourth Fest at Powisset, and each has uniquely leant itself to a moment of reflection on that season. On Sunday, I was reminded of the unpredictability inherent in this job. 

I spent time this winter with Meryl as she (very) patiently went over the crop plan for the 2012 season. Every bunch of carrots or kale or potatoes that we harvest, while seeming still like a happy accident each time, has been deliberately planned for and thought about. Pages of formulas, calculations of yield per row foot, value, timing, management - every corner of the fields have been planned for, foot by foot, crop by crop. And yet, despite our careful efforts to plan for each day, each week, and each month of the season, chaos creeps in. Disease or pests may take down a crop, weeds might win in their battle for dominance, or the weather can leave us both begging for rain or wishing it would stop. We can point to a time on the calendar when we start to think about frost, but we can't be exactly sure of which morning we'll walk out to the fields and notice a puddle has frozen over in the night. 

As a planner, I like order, aim for organization, try to be prepared. But I've started to learn in this job, that being part of the farm community seems to be equal parts planning and letting go. We do the best we can to look forward and pull together order from the fields, but there is a wildness that is just out of reach. The fields don't fully belong to us - we care for them, spend our days in them, pull our nourishment from them, but we can't control them. They belong to bigger systems and cycles and seasons. Bigger than our spreadsheets and best laid plans. 

In the end I think there is a certain magic in that acceptance of letting go. It means that each day in the fields can hold a new surprise or challenge or joy - every day is a new opportunity to learn and adapt. And when rain threatens the Fall Fest, we just move indoors to dry off and celebrate, wondering what the next day will bring.

See you in the fields,
Tessa (on behalf of the Powisset Farm crew)

Apples getting a bath before the cider press

What's in the Share this week:

Up in the barn: lettuce, sweet potatoes!, broccoli, spinach, cilantro, radishes, peppers, delicata squash!, choice of greens (arugula, kale, tatsoi)

In the field: chard, hot peppers, husk cherries

Food Drive in the Barn!

We're hosting a food drive this week for A Place to Turn, a local emergency food pantry. As we continue to celebrate the harvest, we're taking an opportunity to extend the reach of our generous Powisset community just a little further. We will be collecting canned and dry goods in the barn for delivery to A Place to Turn. Every food donation helps to feed others and is greatly appreciated.


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