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Monday, July 22, 2013

Storytelling



In the past couple weeks I have found myself recounting often the story of how I became a farmer.  I’m convinced that the questions about my journey and adventures in farming are coming now, because there is a curiosity about how anyone would want to work outside in the dirt and heat of a week like last week!  In weeks like the last one when the heat makes it challenging to think clearly, or make a good plan for the day, or find enough time to harvest before the sun wilts the leaves of chard, or irrigate the crops the way they need to, or even make time to eat lunch, I think about all the summers and heat waves that came before, and all that will come after this one. 

I got my start in farming eleven years ago, at a small farm in Lincoln, Massachusetts called, Blue Heron Farm.  The story goes that I was a post college grad unsure of what I was going to do with my life (can you imagine!).  I was at a rally in downtown Boston—marching and chanting is one of my favorite pastimes—when I saw a group of people with signs that said, “farmers for peace.”  I recognized one woman as the tired farmer who would come to sell vegetables to the vegetarian restaurant where I waited tables at the time.  I had recently done some gardening and friends of mine had travelled as ‘wwoofers’ (willing workers on organic farms); farming as a job had wedged in my brain.  I ran over to this petite woman, introduced myself as someone who may want to do that.  That, being farming—or at least I wanted to be a ‘farmer for peace.’  A week later, I was digging into the soil in Lincoln about to embark on becoming a farmer. 

For four years I apprenticed at three different farms, ran small farm projects, worked as a farm educator, led volunteers, ate chard for the first time, learned to work on tractors, harvested tomatoes upon tomatoes, squished a 5 gallon bucket full of tomato horn worms, and weeded. All while waiting tables on the side and wondering how long I could manage to balance farming, life outside of farming, and paying rent! 

At a farming conference in the summer of 2006, I noticed a very long job posting near the coffee cart (maybe all good things come from coffee?).  I grabbed the posting, read through its pages upon pages of job demands and decided I was crazy enough to apply for this position, at a place called Powisset Farm, a place I had never heard of, only two towns from where I grew up. 

These past seven years have been full of so many joys and challenges.  I have grown things well and made a disaster of others.  I have been a great leader, and I have been a terrible leader.  I have written and created a beautiful farm plan for the season, and I have lacked that beauty and vision in other years.  I have learned to weld farm equipment and watched as the welds broke or held. 

I like to recall the past and think about how our farm has grown and how I have grown too.  I like the weeks where the heat challenges my strength and teaches me to better care for myself and the fields.  I like to think about the many people who have put their heart and hands into this farm and changed it forever.  I like all the parts of my story and I like that my story brought me here to Powisset.

See you out in the fields,

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew

meryl--first year at Powisset farm-- 2007! woa.


What's in the share:

In the barn: salad mix, basil, bok choi, scallions, cukes and squash, beets, carrots, kale
In the fields: purple beans, dill, flowers



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