Old Friends Farm sits on top of a hill engulfed by red maples beneath where the red tailed hawks soar. Each day I try to take moment out of harvesting sunnies, lifting ginger, or feeding the chickens to really appreciate where I have found myself this season. The rich gold, red, yellow, and orange that wrap around the landscape leave me speechless. This is really where I work?
I don’t have to look beyond a laptop out my office window to see the how stunning autumn is. I am always in it. Whether I am biking to the farm or bending over in the fields there is no barrier between me and the outdoors. The air is fresh, the ground is muddy, the sun is strong, the rain often piercing (especially on a colder day like today).
Oh, today, I sigh. It was a good day overall, but my last day working with the crew on the farm. The temperature did not get above 40. My fingers either throbbed with pain or went numb but wouldn’t move, which is not very convenient while I do most of my work with my hands. The cooler where I pack wholesale deliveries into felt warmer than the air outside.
Admittedly, this thought may have crossed my mind a few times, “Although I love it here and I will miss the people, I accept this as my last day if these frigid elements are going to continue.” Unlike many people, I thrive in temps above 75 with hot sun beating down on my back. Even though I was raised in New England, I have very low tolerance for cold weather.
Now, let’s recall all the positive memories instead of my “I hate winter” rant.
We finally have an abundance of greens this fall with cooler temps, better row cover management, and plenty of rain. Phillip is the greens grower and I am the greens processor. Every week he preps the beds by lifting them with a tractor implement, seeds them (12 rows per bed, very dense), covers with remay over hoops, irrigates if needed, waits 3 weeks, and then cuts them with the incredible greens harvester on wheels. He and this machine can do the work of six people in less time.
While all this is happening, I sanitize the washing tubs and do other little projects like pick nasturtiums and spinach, organize the cooler, and box wholesale orders. After four washings and two spinnings, we are ready to pack bags and stock the cooler for markets, restaurants, and stores. Go Greens Team!
This gorgeous crop is safely tucked into crates in the greenhouse curing. Some are the size of “guinea pigs” exclaimed Missy. She’s right. Two huge sweet potatoes weighed five pounds on the scale this morning. And they weren’t even the biggest. I made a sweet potato ginger peanut curry last weekend to welcome in the harvest. Sweet potatoes complement what…..?
All but one row of ginger has been harvested, so get your supply while it lasts! I stocked my freezer and pickled almost two gallons. The deep earthy smell of freshly pulled young ginger is so grounding and screams medicine. I’d never tire of it, with the exception a few weeks ago when I harvested over 200 pounds by myself. But it was worth it for all of you!
We may not have a big variety this time of year, but we sure have a lot of what is in stock. Sunflowers, celosia, zinnias. Every Sunday I do the sunflower harvest alone. Usually I bring no more than 8 buckets. Last Sunday, all three successions decided to flower at the same time (colder weather and less sunlight stressed the plants, possibly causing them to flower earlier). So, I filled 10 buckets and headed out clippers in hand.
Phew. I reluctantly filled 12 more buckets with water because I wasn’t even halfway done. The field gradually changed from yellow to green. I ended up with 21 buckets each containing 50 stems. That’s over 1,000 sunflowers, I believe. I hope every one likes their bright sunny bunches for this grey day.
Breathtaking vistas remind my how much I love New England. Nature’s beauty is often so vibrant it can be overwhelming. Most of the fall I have felt really busy and sometimes scattered. Taking time to sink into the colors of fall has reminded me to just breathe on those long, seemingly endless days. We live in a stunningly beautiful world. Farming forces us to acknowledge nature’s treasures every day.
Ginger Antlers Crew