I’ve nearly got another Upstate NY winter under my belt! It wasn’t easy, but we’ve made it through to the other side and I’m filled with anticipation over what this new growing season will bring.
After 2 years in storage, we finally got our greenhouse up. It’s not quite plumb from slight warping from being propped up in two different barns in two different states, but it’s standing and that’s a start. We will put the film on this weekend and set the heater up and then I will begin seeding for the 2019 growing season early next week. This year I’ll be pulling double duty, taking a job down the road at Worlds End Farm as their flower and veg grower, while doing a little bit of flower and veg growing here at our farm for one weekend farmers market near the capital and also to provide bouquets for the Brooklyn-bound 607 CSA. This means I will be throwing myself into the deep end again, because when you only have half of the year to fill the coffers, it’s important that you take as many productive opportunities to do so. I have considered my lessons from farming down in NJ, where I repeatedly burned the candle at both ends. But since I’m managing less than an acre total on both farms this year, with more help than I’ve ever had before, I feel confident that it won’t be too stressful this time around. I feel optimistic that this will be a season of abundance, because it already feels like we have so much going for us in our new home.
I’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know our neighbors. We have quite a hopping social life up here, even in the winter. Every week we go to at least one neighbors house for dinner or many times we entertain here in our wood stove heated farmhouse. We have a Instagram chat going called “Local Yokels” where we plan potlucks and other sorts of get togethers and it’s a really lovely group of people. There are folks with children who all play together while the adults eat and drink and converse about all manner of things. We always tend to come back to farming and manifesting a form of collectivism that works well for us all. We all have the desire for a tight knit community and to live a life that feels human and true and low impact and it already feels as if that has started to emerge.
This season, we’ve initiated a sort of calorie crop program within the group, where each farm attempts to grow a variety of storage crops to enjoy through the winter. They can be bartered or shared or just used to keep the family fed at low cost and ultimately, it is an exercise in self-sufficiency and perhaps even a way to test out potential products that might generate income for our farms on a small scale. Lately, everyone has been taking turns helping out with projects on each other farms. We had two of our friends, Mike and Sam, over last week putting up our greenhouse. This week, Mike helped Sam clear out his barn for his new draft horses. Next week, I’ll be going to Mike’s to help him mulch his apple orchard. Round and round it goes until all of our farms are in tip-top order. That’s the goal, at least.
I really enjoy this sort of sharing of ideas and resources, and it feels much better than the transactional exchanges that I am most used to. This is not to say that the types of relationships that came out of our farm business in NJ aren’t valued beyond dollars. I think about my friends and customers back in New Jersey often and miss them very much. It’s just that I could really feel the underlying rift that the exchange of money and product creates between two friends. And I did business with friends a lot. I was too wound up and frightened about failing all of the time to put the breaks on those exchanges when they started to feel strained or imbalanced. Tension is exacerbated when people are stressed or struggling or busy. It rarely gets better unless you back off and let things have a little air and lightness and fun. So, I’m trying not to mix friends and business anymore. Friends help each other and share with each other. I don’t want to put the survival of our farm on the backs of those I care about. That’s not on them. It’s on me.
I start working at World’s End next week. I’ll be doing bed prep and starting seeds, opening up new fields and helping to set up wash pack stations, etc. It’s such a relief to know I’ll start feeling useful again and that I can really start to pull myself out of the recess the past year or two of moving and upheaval have left me in. Life is hard. Life is good. Life is darkness. Life is lightness. On I go.