Raising Jane Journal

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In the Box and On the Farm Thursday

Well, this week ends the spring share of the CSA. The produce is beginning to change as the weather warms up. In this weeks box:
Red and green lettuce
Baby beets and greens
Napa cabbage
red and green kohlrabi
garlic scapes

I look forward to that rare treat every year when the garlic scapes come in. It's like a Christmas in June. The Napa cabbage made for great salad wraps last night and I am excited for that first small taste of roasted beets. There is nothing better (except for maybe sweet potatoes in the fall). The wonderful thing about local foods is that it is every changing through the seasons and I look forward to something new each week. I have to be honest, I was really stuck on the fennel bulb from last week until I came across this fresh fennel salad recipe. I have not had the opportunity to try it yet, but the simplicity of it is perfect.

On the farm this week it was all about washing and weeding. I began my day in the washing station. In a covered shady area a stood at the big wash tub filled with mixed salad greens. It is amazing how much work is actually done right in the fields as it is being harvested. It comes in pretty clean and only needs a quick wash to pick out the few stray weeds and crisp it up a bit before packaging. An old clothes dryer stands by for a quick spin dry and then straight to weighing and bagging and it's ready for market the next day. Then off to the fields for a day full of weeding. We hit the lettuce and chive beds. The rest of the day was just pulling weeds along the beds to make harvesting easy. Even with the temperatures hitting close to 90, it is amazing that being out in the open, the breeze really takes care of being uncomfortable.

As I worked away at the weeds, I started to realize a few things. The sound of birds and breeze filled my ears and not that of any machinery. The farm I work on is part of a group of farms that covers a decent quantity of land and here we were hand picking weeds. The weeds are left in the fields to be tilled back into the soil. The next thing I noticed was the large quantity of ladybugs, big and small. Organic pest control at it's best.

There are usually just a few of us working away at a time, but it is extremely efficient. You notice rather quickly what is a weed and what is not and then you just fall into a rhythm and move along pretty quickly. I noticed that last week during harvesting. You just know what to do and move along at a steady pace.

When I stop to compare it to my back yard garden, all neat and boxed and weeded, I have to notice that real food production is not about how it looks in the field so much as how it looks and tastes on your plate. There is a lot of work involved, but I think it's more about the system that allows it to all come together.

After about three hours I have a tendency to start to feel the work, but I think after a time I will get used to it. It's my favorite workout of the week.

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