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Monday, June 29, 2015

The Magnificence of Soil (and our love of it)

“We impress students with the spectacle of millions of stars in the heavens, but neglect to awe them with the miracle of millions of living organisms in a single teaspoon of fertile soil.” – Eliot Coleman (2007)
our beautiful broccoli
Soil is alive.

Or it is teeming with life. In addition to the visible critters whose existence we more readily acknowledge (earthworms, beetles, voles…), an astounding array of microbes also make a home of the dirt. Their numbers—“millions… in a single teaspoon of fertile soil” are as staggering as their diversity. Some of these microbes are pathogenic, but many form intricate networks of interdependencies with the crops we plant–– for instance, helping decompose organic matter and make its nutrients newly available to feed our food. We can only grow vibrant veggies with decent yields when we nurture and maintain the soil’s structure and biology. As farmers, we are at the mercy of the conditions set up by the invisible microbial world—at times it helps us, at times it hurts us, and it shifts in response to our actions. Decisions about crop rotations, compost treatments, pest control strategies, and tractor cultivation are all shaped by this necessity for healthy soil. The Powisset farm crew that you were introduced to in Meryl’s last post may be about twelve humans strong, but if you count the microbiota that we employ, we’re millions!

Yes, the soil lives and breathes and changes over time and space like you and I. At times, when the rain is scarce and the over-eager sun makes dust of the earth, it’s easy to forget the soil’s humbling vitality. But on that humid day after a rainstorm has quenched the field’s thirst, while I dig my fingers into the warm earth to give the rootball of the tomato I’m planting a firm press, the aliveness of the soil is felt. And it is small-making in a magnificent way. I think Eliot Coleman, just as awed as I, got it right when he asked, “What better medium than a compost heap for students to come face-to-face with life, death, and the processes that keep our planet alive?”

I hope the awe finds you too, and I hope it reaches your children!

How lucky are we to have access not only to beautiful, fresh, and healthy food, but also to this sort of learning experience? The satisfaction of knowing what a potato plant actually looks like above ground; the delight of crawling through the strawberry patch and guzzling the red treasures; the appreciation of earthly rhythms that comes with watching a season unfold from start to finish; the knowledge, both cognitive and felt, that the soil is alive— all push us towards a reverence for the earth. This sort of reverence is a gift in its own right, but it is also a necessity. For as our climate changes and our societies shift, a thorough connection to our food systems will leave us better equipped to adapt and adopt practices that foster both ecological and cultural vigor.

Let’s be thankful for the agricultural education that Powisset provides. And always remember: dirt made your lunch!

See you in the fields,
Andrea Schindler, on behalf of the Powisset Crew

What's in the share this week:
Up at the barn: lettuce (red butterhead, or romaine), beets, carrots!, radishes or turnips, scallions, broccoli (most likely), cabbage (three different to choose from), summer squash, choice of cooking greens

In the fields: kale, parsley, the last of the strawberries, shelling peas

In the Barn
As we enter week four, I am feeling a bit more settled in my role as Distribution Coordinator. Along with the food leaving the bins and shelves, I am enjoying seeing members picking up their shares and connecting with friends and other members. I enjoy seeing children playing in the open space and trying to find the farm cats James & Simba. I am enjoying the connection that is happening everywhere.

What is the "share table?"
Have you noticed the share table in the distribution area? This table is set out for you to exchange veggies that you don't want. If there's something in your share that you absolutely do not want, leave it on the share table for someone else to take. And if you see something on the share table, feel free to grab it. Although we HIGHLY encourage you to try all the veggies you get in your share - farm fresh is so delicious.

New in the Farm Stand

This week Bushel & Crumb will be delivering their pies for the pie CSA on Thursday. There will also be plenty for purchasing, too! Expect to find savory pie, Strawberry Rhubarb and Blueberry Maple. Grab a pie (and some Crescent Ridge ice cream) to take along to your 4th of July celebration!

Also new is CSA member Kathy Zola's handmade goods. Check out her beautiful hand crafted potholders, facecloth (with soap) and bags knitted with cotton yarn and shopping bags (yes, you read that right!).

Dehydrating and Winter Food Storage
Saturday, August 1st

Does it break your heart when you have to throw out that big, beautiful tomato from your farm stand because the yield is bigger than your weekly needs?  Have you thought about making tomato sauce but don't want to deal with all that goes into canning?  Come to this class!  Margie Dillenburg (one of our dedicated volunteers) will show you how her $30 dehydrator changed her winter by giving her farm fresh goodies all year long - and it doesn't require the space or effort that jarring/canning does.  Learn how to never throw out your wilting veggies again, and to maximize your share to be eaten all year long. You will learn how to dehydrate many veggies and fruits, there will be samples, a storage demo, and before/after examples, as well as a demo on how to RE-hydrate and use these foods when you take them out of storage.  $25 TTOR members; $35 non-members.

Star Party & BYO Picnic Dinner!
Powisset Farm • 37 Powisset St. • Dover
Friday, July 24, 2015 | 7:00-9:30PM

Join us and our local Astronomer for Powisset Farm’s Star Party! You will see and learn more about the stars, planets and moon. 

BYO Picnic Dinner will begin at 7:00PM and star gazing will begin at sundown, or approximately 8:00PM. FREE for TTOR members; $5 suggested
donation for non-members.

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