Farmer Tam’s End of Season Field Report

I can hardly believe our CSA season has come to an end. The CSA garden has been both my escape and my challenge all season long. The never ending weekly to do list – planting, weeding, picking. Then start again. The weekly CSA pick sheet needed by Sunday morning.

Saturday is the day I sit down with Silvia to discuss the garden. What’s at peak and ready to pick. What’s not. But the list grows and grows until frost. Then it’s time. Pumpkin picking season is here. The end is near.

Silvia is a get-to-the-point kind of gal. A no-frills, no-fluff kind of girl. We sit together in front of the computer screen to send the chart with four columns. One column lists the item. Column two lists the variety. Column three lists Couple’s Share. Column four lists Family Share. Let’s get it done. The pumpkins are waiting. We need to pick eight more skids by nightfall.

If she’s feeling frisky, she may add a few lines. “Harvest corn from row 3, 4 and 5” or “Plant fall garlic by Friday”. Silvia is fun to work with and has a keen insight for seeing what needs to get done – and then getting it done. Between my ebullience and her get-it-done attitude – we make a tremendous team.  What I love about Silvia’s list is the field descriptors.  It’s likely not hugely efficient for those “not in the know”, but each garden has a name:  Tam’s Garden.  Terry’s Garden, Silvia’s Garden and the New Mole Garden. The Pumpkin Field. Each has a purpose with rows and rows!

She starts by saying: “Let’s pick the kale by the pond, next to the corn, three rows over from where the carrots used to be. I chime in: Or next to the zucchini that the moles didn’t eat– next to the fennel, close to the cow fence. Silvia knows just where I mean. We’ve both got a mental map of the entire garden. I find myself remembering playing memory card games with my Mum. There’s a rhythm in remembering. Over the years, we’ve developed a beautiful kinship and a language – half English, half Spanish that only we understand. Farm-ily. This is the spot where the cabbage flourished, where the mole took refuge, and the green bean rows healed the Earth.

Our staff sees me walking the farm, making crop notes the old fashioned way, by hand, in the crop binder. They approach me with important matters to ask my opinion. Dave wants to discuss how to start the new generator – compressor we bought for the Pumpkin Cannon. He gives the complete run down and tells me his historical knowledge of each step from previous experience. He asks me, as the owner, can I get it going? Sure thing! I say with a smile. First, you spray in the ether…

I imagine it’s like when our social media guy starts talking about the latest Facebook algorithm: I have no idea. This is a language I don’t speak; expertise I don’t have. I do not pretend to understand metrics or how to calculate ROI. I trust that the person with the passion knows, the way I know the things I know. The ones you click with, you seem to have a shorthand, a history with, they understand. It’s profound and unspoken. You just know the way you know your eyes are brown or your home address from when you were a kid. When you meet them it’s like a reunion. Like when Heather comes to help.

I imagine our accountant feels this way about our financials. In fact I know she does. She is passionate about them the way I get excited about a new event, tour or season. So it is at the farm; we each have our prowess. Our graphic designer churns out images like our new chef friend Scott creates masterpieces with our food, and like Silvia picks all of the things off her list.

And what do I create? I’m not exactly sure. Maybe hope. Maybe encouragement. Maybe connections. A love of the land. The boundless optimism – shaped by years of growing row after row of pumpkins in a hundred shades of orange in every size and shape conceivable! I can be found in our fields, listening, trusting and learning. How did the pumpkins grow? Where the cabbage flourished, the mole took refuge and the green bean rows healed the Earth.

Have a wonderful winter, everyone! I look forward to next spring! Farmer Tam