When I'm talking to people about our CSA, I catch myself sometimes saying we are farmers. I think that is because other people's perception of us, is that we are "farmers". Yes, we own a farm, albeit a very small farm of 15 acres and we do grow food. We have on occasion had a couple of goats, several chickens and a few rabbits. So, are we farmers? I don't think so, at least we don't feel like one. We don't have the big farm equipment to plow, grow and harvest acres and acres of food. We don't lay out our planting rows in long, narrow straight lines.
I think of us more as gardeners....of a very large garden...but gardeners, none the less. After tilling or plowing the first time to start a new garden space, we don't till again. We use tools like a hoe and cultivator, just like you would use for a small garden at home. Our rows are 3' wide and 20" long and are permanent. As long as we don't step on them, the soil stays nice and loose for years. We don't use chemical fertilizers, but we do rotate crops each year to replenish the nutrients in the soil. I mentioned in the last post, that we grow field peas for eating, as well as for enriching the soil. Peas and Beans leave nitrogen in the soil, which replaces what other crops might have depleted. Instead of using chemical pesticides, we use row covers in the early season and interplant Marigolds, Nasturtiums and Petunias for the latter season. We, also, don't use chemical weed killers, because using a mulch on the rows works just as well. If any weeds do make it through the mulch, they are pulled by hand. We "make" enriched soil for our garden by composting and adding that to our rows. When it gets a little too cold for the plants, we lovingly tuck them under a cover of plastic. If the heat is taking a toll on them then we bring out the shade cloth. We do all this because we love to watch everything grow from a tiny seed to a full size plant that produces food. Our produce is raised naturally, and as such, may not always be in perfect form, but the taste will definitely make up for it.
This is not to say that farmers don't get the same enjoyment of watching things grow, but it just isn't possible for a farmer to tend to his crops in the same manner. In order for a farmer to grow enough and then to sell his crops for a decent price, the produce needs to be picture perfect. I'm not sure that can be accomplished without the use of chemicals of some sort.
The bottom line....we don't want to be categorized as farmers. We are gardeners!
Posted by Robin @ 09:02 PM CST [ Comments  ]