Wild swings of spring

May 24, 2015

Welcome to the 2015 CSA season. It has been a wild spring so far. For much of April we were under water, wondering if the rain would ever let up. Well, let up it did and way too much. For the past month, we have gotten a little more than ¼ inch of rain, and crops are experiencing drought stress. While many nearby places have received replenishing showers, we seem to get barely a drizzle—enough to wet the leaves of plants, but not enough to water their roots. Had it not been for the weather forecasts frequently calling for rain, I would have already jumped on laying out our irrigation system. This weekend, then, whatever the meteorologists are saying, I am getting busy rolling out hose and drip tape.
This is my 11th year growing produce, and I have never seen it so dry so early. A month without rain during the summer is not good but also not uncommon. A month without water during the spring is nearly disastrous; now is when we need to get seeds germinating and plants established, and this doesn’t happen without water. The earth in many places is cracking open, begging for hydration. Rather than continuing to size up, as they should be, our strawberries are starting to ripen. Patches of grass are already turning brown. Plants that should be growing are holding on for dear life. Yikes.
Yet temperatures have mostly been mild. Summer is not even here yet. What happens if we keep missing the rain, and the heat starts to soar? These thoughts of the long haul are what have me working hard to stave off a gnawing depression.
(To interrupt me from my unpleasant reverie, the water pump for our house just started going haywire. I looked down into our well, and it has gone dry. That’ll give me something to do tomorrow, I guess.)
Enough said. Let’s change the subject.
A new working share
And he’s four years old and quickly coming to have a sharper farming mind than mine. His name is Clark, and he he’s learning to read, and write, and reason, and calculate. But the greatest privilege he can conceive of is to get to work with the crew. He may be super late for lunch or getting whacked in the head with a shovel (because he follows so closely behind), but he wants to see the job through to the end. I strive to not spoil all the goodness I see unfolding.
The cruelest month
Some say it’s April, but I say it’s May. Everything is happening now: tilling, planting, weeding, watering, picking, packing, thinning, mowing. Courtney is still in school, Monday through Friday. The chickens, both layers and broilers, squawk out for attention. A new deer fence project needs to be finished, but when? Although it stays light late into the night now, I still must fire up the headlamp and make it light longer. Thankfully, I am built for such mania; I was made to run marathons; I find purpose in the endless pursuit. In the winter months, I start fires. In the growing season, I seek them and attempt to put them out.
I say “I” too much. This farm has survived these ten years because it is a team effort. Just as Clark sees the crew as a collection of role models, so too do I. There is no joy in a journey undertaken alone. However challenging the circumstances, this farm survives so long as laughter and camaraderie triumph. We are each other’s angels, we keep each other going, and such a sense of gratitude floods over me that I have no words to express it. Know, though, that it is a great honor to work alongside you and to feel that we complement each other, that, aware of the awful warring and hurt all around, this work that is at times grueling is, to me, a healing and wholeness equally powerful. Thanks, and thanks again, to the end of times.
This past week of first deliveries was like a family reunion. It was a delight to reunite. Thanks for all the rain dances and words and hugs of commiseration. With a little luck, and each other, we’ll thrive like we always have.

Here we go again

May 10, 2015


CSA Shares for Sale

February 9, 2015

because we in getting and spending lay waste our powers,
we claim all our things as ours
and do it all the time.
little we see of nature as we pass our hours,
save human nature and the nature of the market,
where quickly rises to the top the dark, it
overpowers our natures to what is ours.

the garden has its own economy and laws.
at times its laws are more stringent, more disturbingly dark than ours,
and squandered are many of the rewards of our hours.
but at many times too its nature is more resplendently resilient
and more essentially empowered with will to love and reproduce eternally
than is ever allowed in our getting and spending, our free markets,
our obsession with owning and More.

so in the garden we reap abundant harvests of humility.
we see cycles that endure beyond concepts of time of which we can conceive.
it is almost inconsequential that we have purchased $30.95 of seed, put in 12 hours of minimum wage, rented to own a $12,995 tractor, surveyed assiduously the futures market—
still, despite my certainty that I am owed a return on my investment, my claims of fraud, evasion, economic injustice,
my basket is empty.

and so sharing a hold on the garden,
we yoke ourselves to a less capitalistic truth.
however much you “paid,” by whichever ways and means,
does not equal a guaranteed bag of beans.
we do not manufacture food or purchase produce;
we respect eons of rock, soil, water, fertility,
hoping for wholesome and holistic harvests.
we put forth a performance of plenty of work,
we wear our tools and our selves out
with a barely sustainable sense of dignity
and, laying waste for lengthy spells to our getting and spending,
a little more we see of nature that is ours, though not owned by us.
we subscribe to an economy a little less artificial,
a reality not totally determined by our words and cash registers,
and we, not just gluttonously felling dollar signs,
aim to see “our” woods as healthy fifty years from now
while we also, not just mining for mine,
tend to fast-fleeting annual seeds and innumerable insects’ feeding needs,
reaping unbought, incalculable rewards.

to be or not to be?

to be or not to be?

Wrapping it up

October 22, 2014


During the summer, the weeks and months become a blur: the picking never ends; we pack boxes twice a week; inexorable nature waits until winter to let up and hibernate.  While many of you mourn the passing of fresh, tender produce, we as farmers take a moment to exhale, reflect, and celebrate.  We have weathered the threatening storms, hefted the 10000 bushels, navigated the normal unpredictable eventualities.  The process is simple yet mysterious, grueling yet beautiful, and it is time to prepare for the next go-round.

We get here to the end by virtue of grace and generosity.  We succumb to the finality with peace and plenty.  It is a wonderful year indeed when we approach winter with bountiful provisions: the squash is piled high; the garlic is both stored and planted again; the onions and sweet potatoes are prepared to provide for months to come; the parsnips and carrots reside in the soil’s protective embrace; and the hardy greens welcome frozen nights to come.  For this, for being here to give thanks for our continued nourishment, we count ourselves blessed indeed.

Thanks for choosing to know your farmer.  Thanks for believing that such knowledge matters.  Thanks for the work that you have put in, be it weeding, picking, transporting, planning, washing, chopping, cooking, praying, forgiving.  Thanks for sharing in the joy of admiring, smelling, tasting, indulging.  Together we work, and together we strive.

I truly believe in Community Supported Consuming.  Much of what plagues our globalized world is our distance from what feeds us.  When we don’t know the hands and backs that break and bend for us, we can make of them an abstraction or, worse, forget they even exist.  If our luxury is the product of exploited and suffering people, what kind of luxury is this?  When we live too far from the places on earth that are cultivated to satisfy our desires, we lose sight of the nature of the demands we make.  If our sustenance results in poisoned waters and desecrated skies, what is being sustained?  We are made more whole by being more wholly aware of our getting and spending, by recognizing the connections that bind us to the interconnected world we live in, by appreciating what makes us belong to each other and this planet.

Although it might be more convenient to be a bystander, to consume with less consciousness and more “freedom,” to let others concern themselves with these acts of creation, the path of participation is greatly gratifying.  There is a plainly palpable pleasure—an enlivening intimacy—in knowing the food, in knowing how and where it comes from, in plunging our thirsty roots down deep into the rich network of soil that gives us life.

A journalist we met through the Healthy Foods, Local Farms conference wrote this piece, in which our little family makes an appearance, about our neighbor and friend Wendell Berry.


Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

Summing up the summer

October 1, 2014

I sit down to write a newsletter, produce a few paragraphs, get pulled away from the process, sit back down, weeks have passed, and the news has become old.  It has been a full and fruitful year: from one bountiful harvest to the next; from one monumental weeding job to the next; from one feeling of accomplishment to two of things undone; from one energetic toddler to the other fledgling explorer; from one late night to the next early morning; from births to deaths and the madly spinning world between them.

A farmer’s world from spring to fall does not allow many still moments of reflection.  The list never contracts.  The race is always on to the next demand.  We are consumed by the farm, and we love it.  A parent’s life from morning to evening does not allow many quiet spells of perspectivizing.  We may at times sit spellbound by the unfolding of consciousness, the constant discoveries and epiphanies, the purity of essence, the beauty of being.  But time furtively propels forward, and when at last perspective strikes we realize the child has grown older, the baby is no longer a baby.  We lose ourselves to our children, and we love it.  And so it goes under the unfathomably distant stars, on this ever-revolving earth, eon upon eon, where both no thing is new under the sun and every thing is always new.

Amidst these immutable facts, seasons change and annual crops come and go.  Year ten of A Place on Earth CSA has been a great boon.  The weather has been as close to perfect as can be, and our bushel baskets have run over.  It has been a long haul seeing this farm from worn-out and neglected to fertile and forgiving, and still there is so much work to be done.  But, it is becoming more and more clear that the land responds to loving care.  Where once even weeds were hardly fit to grow, beautiful food now flourishes.  We have made this happen as a community, and, in a world convulsing with war and pestilence, this place on earth—little as it is—harbors great hope for healing, resilience, cooperation, and the power of love.

Just as in 2005 it would have been impossible to foresee where we would be in 2014, we cannot imagine how this farm organism will evolve over the next ten years.  If the creek don’t rise, however, we can only continue to grow in health and integrity as we work together through each successive trial and triumph.  It has been a great honor to work this land, to tend to these plants and animals and microbes, to believe and be believed in, to celebrate and mourn, look and leap, wonder and imagine with you, as bedraggled and bewildered as I may sometimes be.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude for my companions in the field and home and spirit.  Whatever the circumstances, you are here, and you make light in darkness, fun in hardship, laughter in loss, learning in confusion.  I frequently feel I do not give as much as I take.  I wish there were some way to repay what I know I owe.  Know that your presence is a gift I’ll sing of and give thanks for to the grave.  Our family is unspeakably richer with you in it.

Frost will soon creep in and kill back much of the labor we lavished on this place this year.  I hope your bellies and freezers and larders have been filled and that you are still hungry for another spring and another go-round through another growing season, another journey in an endless effort to right our relationships with each other and this precious planet.


A time to plant, and a time to pick

May 17, 2014

Favorable weather and timely work add up to a garden ready to be picked. It’s a manic time of year on the farm: planting, weeding, seeding, tilling, mowing, watering, more planting–and now harvesting. So thank goodness for a super-reliable, super-capable crew of working shares and our most generous, flexible parents, who all together allow us to “make vegetables while the sun shines.”
Clark is turning into quite the little farmer. He prefers to go by “Daddy” lately, and his most frequent excuse for why he’s not ready for bed is that he has more work to do. Campbell is not exactly helping just yet, but he is often trying to negotiate his way outside, where he has a penchant for moving mulch (usually away from where it belongs). Courtney was supposed to be done with school shortly, but, with the abundance of snow days this winter, still has several weeks to go. Carden feels he is more appropriately deemed a juggler than a farmer and mostly enjoys the wide array of hats he dons through the days.
Although the world is nearly too much with us, we, in moments allowing some reflection and appreciation, feel beautifully blessed with family, friends, health, earth, light, growth and grandeur. We look forward to seeing you very soon and sharing the hale harvest of this verdant place on earth.
Thanks for joining us for another induplicable, unpredictable, joyous journey through the seasons.

Planting and planting

April 26, 2014


Daddy’s little helper

March 14, 2014

Planting season has arrived!

3142 3143 3144

Falling into Fall

September 29, 2013

031The year of the hospital

I guess it was my turn.  Clark had his two week stay in the NICU in 2010.  Between Courtney and Campbell we had five hospital stays in January and February of this year.  Two weeks ago, I was taken to the emergency room with a concussion and broken right arm after I fell from the ladder while picking pears.  As if farming and raising two young children were not enough, now I’m learning to do these jobs with one functional (and non-dominant) arm.  For my next trick, perhaps I’ll try a blindfold.

I’m of course leaning on good help more than ever.  Thanks so much to wonderful working shares, parents, friends and neighbors for keeping us in business here, albeit slowly and awkwardly on my end.  I don’t think I lost too many marbles in the fall, and the pain in my wrist has greatly subsided.

Typing is of course also slow and awkward, so I’ll keep this newsletter brief.

Season extension

The last deliveries of this 25-week season will be October 30 and November 2.  We’ll do like last year and offer three more 2013 deliveries, November 16, 30, and December 14.  Cost of this extension will be $90.  The high tunnel (if we can control the mole problem) may allow us more harvests into 2014, but we’ll wait and evaluate where we are in late December.  Let us know if you are interested or have any questions.

Crops will include: storage veggies like garlic, onion, sweet potato and winter squash; roots like carrot, beet, salsify, and radish; a wide array of hardy greens like kale, arugula and bok choy.  Egg deliveries will continue on through the Winter as well.

Another picture-perfect potluck

Thanks to all for another successful potluck.  It was a beautiful afternoon with delicious food and delightful people.  Visit our website, aplaceonearthcsa.com, for my dad’s awesome collection of photos from the day.  If you haven’t made it out to the farm before, know that you are always welcome to come for a visit.  Just give us a heads-up and head on out.  This is a community farm, and we love to share it with you.


APOE news, 8-25-13

August 25, 2013

So much for the perfect growing season.  The mild temperatures and timely rains have given way to our typical late August burn-out.  I’ve seen these same cracks in the earth before, these same shriveling fruits and plants, these same clouds of dust drifting.  Still what a pleasure it was to enjoy “Nature’s first green” prolonged upon the scene, as if it could last for so much longer than an hour.  So each season’s rise and fall, so the toddler’s play gives way, so we embrace come what may, “so dawn goes down to day.  Nothing gold can stay.”  

Last year we jumped into drought and intense heat very early, but August brought relief in rain and cooler temps, which ushered in a beautiful, bountiful Fall/Winter harvest.  This year, as you well know, the Summer has been a bonanza.  Time will tell if these late crops can somehow thrive in stiff heat, without water.  It is no small comfort to have a barn full of garlic, onions, pumpkins and winter squash, plus two long, healthy-looking rows of sweet potatoes yet to be dug.  One way or another we will make it to the finish (lord willing and the creek is certainly not rising); it sure would be nice, though, for these last couple months of the season to match the bounty of the first four months.

The days are never long enough to get done what we want.  This is ever more so with Courtney back in school.  She gets home 4:30 or so and my day begins again, sometimes stretching way too late into the night.  It is a wild time in our lives—no time to think, hardly time to eat or drink.  We are always and eternally grateful for all the help and love so generously bestowed upon us.  As crazy as it gets, we rarely lose sight of what a blessing this life is and how wonderful it is to share it with you.

Last chance for chicken

Our last processing day will be this coming Saturday.  The birds have feasted on lush pasture all Summer long and turned out really well.  We do still have birds that are unspoken for, so just tell us how many you would like, and we will deliver next weekend. 

We are happy to have incorporated these chickens into the farm, for not only do they provide a delicious protein for us meat-eaters, but they also deliver a knock-out fertilizer directly to the fields, with no need for a combustion engine or manure spreader.  As our neighbor, Wendell Berry, has succinctly stated, when we (as a society) took animals off the farm, we created a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem at the feedlot.  We know that, in the long run, if we want this place on earth to remain fertile and productive, we need enough animals here to properly enrich the soil.  And so, in many ways, these chickens are an important addition to our farm.

Last 2013 potluck

The equinox is fast approaching.  Join us Saturday, September 21, at 3 PM for our 9th annual Autumnal Equinox Potluck.  Good food, good people, good music, good earth—what more could you want?  See you then, if not sooner.