I cannot help but start to feel excited now that the weather is changing. I question my sanity and everyone else that has taken up growing. That is the conundrum with growing safe fruits, vegetables and chickens. It is incredibly hard, unpredictable and totally at the mercy of the environment. For the small farmer it is gambling with the steepest of stakes.
Yet, there are tens of thousands forging ahead pushing physical barriers and toiling for the benefit of others. To me growing transcends everything but money. If you do not make money in essence, you have a hobby. There are not a lot of people that would perform physical labor in July and August in Maryland, if they did not have to or if there was no passion for what they were doing. However, it really does make me wonder if I am tilting at windmills sometimes.
This year however, has promise for something special. This season marks the first time that we have two experienced farm hands returning to help us. These young adults are bright, hard working, honest, thoughtful and dependable. Last year would have been worse had it not been for their help, ideas and dedication. I have two people that understand the dangers of farming, the correct way to plant, weed and care for the chickens. This means most of my time will be spent doing other tasks, like flame weeding, much to the chagrin of my wife.
The people that help on the farm are a stark contrast to what I have seen from people their age. This negative image was borne from dealing with the dolts that have ridden through our property and various other interactions. I do not mean to say that the actions of a few represented the group as a whole, but I was jaded having visited the Future Farmers of America class only to find out that their idea of farming was using air-conditioned tractors.
There is something about farming that makes one mature faster. I see it on family farms where the kids do some major chores. Some of the folks that have worked with us have gone on to establish themselves in their own communities. One runs a farm another works in an urban farming initiative. They were civic minded before they got here. I would like to think what they learned during their tenure reinforced their core beliefs. We let our actions speak for us and that is what they saw. We talk the talk to our customers but they saw that our actions supported our views about healthy sustainable farming while providing a safe, fresh, food source for our community.
We actually made money this year. It was not much but we were not in the red as we have been in the past years. Losses have been due to stinkbugs, lack of water and nutrient management. To get around the stinkbugs we planted more spring and fall crops and for summer, planted underground vegetables that they could not get. `
Therefore, we start this spring as we do every other one. Renewed and rested in body and spirit, filled with potential and possibilities. This season with our veterans coming back to help us the sky is the limit.
Buy Local: Preserve those who chose to persevere for a healthy environment and food source.