I hope you've been well since I wrote you last. Did you think that you missed last weeks newsletter? Don't fear, there were no mistakes. The newsletter is now bi-weekly. We're making this change so that I can develop the content more fully for your enjoyment. Now, let's do the announcements.
First off, please allow me to apologies for a mistake that I made. Last week, I sent an e-mail to let you know that Eater's Guild will be holding an On Farm Chicken Sale. I said that the sale would occur every Tuesday for the rest of the summer when, in fact, the sale will not become regular until a few weeks from now. I'll let you know when it starts up again.
Now I would like to tell you more about Eater's Chickens. The chickens will be dead and de-feathered. They will be whole, fresh, and wrapped. Sometimes, boneless, skinless breasts will be available. The chickens are wrapped in a thick, vacuum sealed bag. They will be ready to freeze. The market price for the chicken is $4.25 per pound. The farm price is $4 dollars per pound.
Travis Meier (the main caregiver) told me that his favorite way to prepare the birds is to put them in a brine for 6-12 hours. Then, he will stuff them with lemon wedges, garlic cloves, and fresh thyme and rub the outside with oil, salt, pepper, and dry thyme. He advised that ranged chicken may need a little more time in the oven to tender. Perhaps you'll want to roast them at a lower heat (350) for longer (2 hours).
Brad Baughman, one of the fine Eater's Guild interns, critiqued my article Reigned by Rain in the last newsletter by saying. "You wrote 'traditional' farming. I might instead use the word "industrial" there, or "conventional," since the type of agriculture you were referring to is altogether a-traditional, and destroys traditions. Only a semantic point."
Organic farming is a sanctum of unique experience during this time of high industrialization. We have the gall to participate in the magic of growth without clinical, scientific controls and regulations.
Seeds to Plants
We sow thousands of seeds. Thousands of smooth-skinned pumpkins seeds, of rippling dried pea seeds, of translucent sweet corn kernels, of clustered, brown pepper seeds, of tear shaped lettuce seeds. We sow all together, in friendly little stations, in the green house, on afternoons, likely when it's raining.
In the greenhouse the seeds germinate. They grow abundantly in their seed flats, which are a kind of tray comprised by little cups, or cells. They shooting tall, vying with each other for the sunlight. Once they are old enough, we move them outdoors, to the enclave between the greenhouses, to where they are protected and still exposed, so they may be hardened by the pushes of the passing breezes.
Plants to the Field
We snatch up the flats by fours, two bound up in a hand each, and walk. We step through and over and on, marching forward to the double-wide palate that the cobalt blue tractor holds with spaded hands.
Marcellino comienza el tractor, y conduce a los campos. El resto de nosotros caminar detrás. We are talking, and laughing, and watching the farm features as we pass them by. When we catch up, Marcelino has the transplanter set up. We hope that these plants are going to pull from the flats good, or else it will be a long day of filling missed holes.
The transplanter is like a wagon on the back of the tractor. The transplanter has a two hundred gallon drum that feeds water down to two hollow steel wheels that have hollow steel spikes. They turn with the motion of the tractor over the earth, punching holes to fill with water, which we riders fill with plants.
Yes, we're riders. The transplanter has two seats on two iron arms that each often drag along the ground. We sit with our legs forward, braced up on a small steel bar set for that purpose. We each sit behind a tray that's like a music stand, which hold two flats of plants in our reach. We pinching the plants and checking how loose they are. They are coming out smooth today.
The engine is running. Marcelino engages the water flow by turning a valve on the transplanter. He hurries to start the motion as it begins to pool around the steel wheels. The clutch engages. The tractor tugs us forward. We pull our first plants, hold them forward, and begin to plug the holes. After a few yards of clumsy reaching, missing, reaching, and speeding up, we catch a groove, make smooth motions, and sink the plants into the cool, fresh fluid, row by row in the field. We know these ones are going to make it. We don't hardly need to look now.
We talk about ourselves to each other. We share our stories, ideas, and dreams. We make jokes, suggesting things like, “let's all order matching Eater's Guild jumpsuits sometime” or “we should dress as zombies each day and chase the passing Amtrak.”
We wait. Week after week, we protect the plants.
People to the Plants
We all think we're people who've introduced vegetable plants to a space. But who has introduced who? Our farm is a bilayer orchestra. On one hand, farmers conduct the plants from seed to maturity and harvest the surplus. On the other hand, the plants conduct the farmers from thaw until snowfall, day until night. The plants drew, and draw us, from Flint, Mexico, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and other lands and times afar, to the same fields, to the living soil, to have community, and to grow together through the summer season.
Plants to People
The second part of our work began in late May, early June, when we began pulling the first radishes. Things are really speeding up now as we bring in kale, garlic, summer squash, collards, kohlrabi, basil, potatoes, and see on the horizon many other vegetables. Our transplants grew up from timid, tiny flecks of verdigris in expansive, bare, bronze fields to a most-desired aspect of a weedy, green ground cover.
Now our days are filled harvesting. Picking, bunching, boxing. Lifting, washing, stacking. Shipping. Transporting the plants one final time, that they might live one final life and create one more community of consumers.