The slow spring we’ve been experiencing parallels my relaxed transitions between traveling abroad, moving home, and starting a new job. Usually I rush into change and don’t leave much time to reflect and process. You know when the seasons seem to skip over spring and jump into hot, humid weather when we aren’t entirely ready? Fortunately it’s been a long cool, wet spring and I don’t feel totally behind.
I highly recommend transition time. Finally after two months, my mind has caught up with my body. Three weeks ago I started work at Old Friends Farm (www.oldfriendsfarm.org) in Amherst feeling eager and excited to join a new team of farmers. And what a great crew we have! Subscribe to the weekly newsletter Casey puts together for regular updates.
Missy and Casey, farm operators and owners, are wonderful people and I am very grateful to have them as my bosses. They balance each other well. Missy gets silly when we all need a laugh and Casey bakes delicious muffins containing seasonal fare such as dandelion flowers. Lisa, assistant manager, can be very funny and keeps the team spirit high. She worked at Brookfield Farm and I can tell I have a lot to learn from her. Phillip works part time but I always notice when he is around because his calm presence resonates, except when directing the transplanter driver to start and stop. Buzzy, who you may see at the Amherst Market on Saturdays, is a natural farmer, even though it’s his first season farming. Tamsin is really good at bringing people together. She worked at Red Fire Farm last season and organized the Young Farmers Mixer. I admire how she models the importance of self-care even during physically demanding days.
The seven of us grow greens, veggies, cut-flowers, ginger, and eggs on top of Bramble Hill. There are about ten different season extending structures including tunnel cold frames, greenhouses, and the six newly constructed tunnels called the Hay Grove where we grow ginger, flowers, tomatoes, and early crops like radishes, spinach and lettuce. In addition to wholesale, we sell at four markets: Amherst on Saturdays, Northampton on Tuesdays, Copley Square on Fridays and Newton on Tuesdays.
Remember my six darling hens last season? Well, they are doing just great in Greenfield on their urban plot. My friends who adopted them brought me a dozen eggs and they are much bigger than before. I tried my first pickled egg which they made this past winter and it was delicious.
Now my egg supply comes from Old Friends Farm. We have over 150 layers and 200 chicks that are growing very quickly. They will be our layers for next season when we cull the hens over three years old. The chicks moved to fresh pasture and are very happy with their new home. What a beautiful new coop! And look at their view!
Three days a week I bike on the bike path, which runs directly behind the farm. After 40 minutes of pedaling without ever biking on a road, I take a narrow path to the fields, which are surrounded by conservation land.
The birds cast their songs and swoop down into the tall grass. The frogs bellow very low notes to contrast the Bobolink’s high pitched call. The powerful sun burns off the early morning dew lifting moisture into the air. What a great way to start the day!
My responsibilities include seeding, transplanting, watering, harvesting, hoeing, weeding, irrigating, processing greens, loading trucks, stringing tomatoes and cukes, chicken chores, and the list goes on. I love the diversity of projects and learning new skills with a team of incredibly talented people.
I usually spend my off time in my family’s garden planting annuals and the recent order of blueberries, raspberries and asparagus. I also picked up some garden gigs for other people. When I’m not digging in the dirt, I cook meals with friends and attend a Chinese Herbalism class in town.
My transition thus far has been smooth, but also loaded with lifelong lessons. I try to remember not to push myself too hard because a tired, worn out body is useless in my line of work. I take the time to appreciate nature’s beauty and continue to find great joy in food production year after year. I know this will be another wonderful season and I am excited to share it with you!