June is the month that bright colors other than green start to pop up everywhere. Summer has finally returned. Almost all of the cold season crops have passed and our greenhouse space is slowly transitioning to flowers, ginger, and tomatoes.
It is finally sinking in that I work at a cut flower farm. Before we starting harvesting flowers, I admit that I questioned how much time, money, and labor went into growing a crop that can’t even be consumed (with the exception of nasturtiums). Now I am thrilled with each cut flower we grow.
Every week I fall in love with whatever is ready to harvest. Two weeks ago I drooled over sweet william, now I am lusting over the sunflowers and canterbury bells. And the lilies, where to begin? They are just so elegant I feel completely at ease when I look at them.
Flowers bring joy and happiness to our hearts whether we’re aware of it or not. That alone is reason enough to grow flowers. We could all use a good mood boost living in this world, right? Of course the money they bring in doesn’t hurt either.
Speaking of the state of the world, I can’t neglect to mention the difficult weather patterns and the affect they have had on the farm. We have been extremely lucky with only a few crop losses due to too much rain, then high temperatures, then cold, then high again. The amount of rain we had this spring leached nutrients from the soil where we had a greens succession planted, causing the leaves to turn yellow and tiny plants to bolt (flower).
Our boc choi was not a fan of the wild temperature fluctuations either. Most of them bolted before we were able to harvest. When a plant bolts early, it usually means it is stressed and trying to reproduce before time runs out. Fortunately we have not yet planted in our wettest fields so no plants have rotted due to all the rain, like what is happening to many farmers in Hadley along the lower lands of the Connecticut River.
Stressed plants and golf ball sized hail can also cause a farmer to be a bit anxious. We have spent several afternoons watching dark grey clouds with a hint of green tumble towards us. The lightening has not been shy either. A tornado only 15 miles south of us makes me suspicious of how quickly we are seeing the affects of climate change. Mother nature is angry, and rightfully so.
I try to steer clear of the climate change topic because it is becoming too political for my taste. The problems we are having, and will continue to experience are urgent without a doubt. Much of the damage cannot be reversed- it is too late. There are still many ways to slow down and even halt our contributions to climate change. I applaud those who are working on this issue in all sorts of arenas.
Humans are very resilient and adaptable. Regardless of whether or not we caused climate change, the Earth is an ever-changing planet. The Earth had to change drastically over the last thousands of years in order to support the thriving human species.
Rather than “fighting climate change,” I am shifting my priorities to live more peacefully on this planet. The battle is absolutely worth “fighting” if you go after the major producers of CO2, such as the military. At this point in my life, I’d rather spend my days outside weeding carrots than in front of a computer networking with anti-war groups.
I am approaching this issue from another angle where I believe I can be most effective and still live a happy healthy life. Growing food, biking, hanging my clothes on the line, buying less stuff, and enjoying the present moment makes sense to me. If this ripples out to the bigger picture of reducing CO2 emissions, then that’s great. And if not, then I’m still not going to feel bad about it. If we lose a bed of a boc choi along the way, so be it.
Enough of that. Let me move on to something we can all feel pleased about: the bounty of June’s harvest! Carrots, beets, radishes, haukerei, scallions, chard, greens, flowers, peas, strawberries, lettuce, and fennel! Farm fresh food we’ve been waiting for all winter is finally back. Old Friends Farm t-shirts simply say it all, “well fed.”
Here’s some snapshots of some of the wonderful people I work with…