For the first time, I hesitated to reflect on the year. Do I really want to look back on this one? Or should we just leave it behind and look forward? Despite the unique challenges, there have been bright spots and moments of learning and growth.
Farming is conducive to social distancing and we were grateful to be able to continue our work and feel safe doing so. Our first major challenge was school closure. Like so many parents, our workday suddenly went from something resembling eight hours to basically zero. Maxwell and Flora’s teachers graciously worked with me to allow them to come to the farm and do some paper work while David and I tried to continue with the spring rush of planting, cultivating, greenhouse work, and transitioning to harvest and CSA deliveries. We found a groove. As soon as we went through the large yellow gate and entered the farm property, the kids would unbuckle, roll down the windows, and stick their heads out to feel the wind.
They spent hours in the garden each day, reading under a tent, doing their school work, helping to hoe or plant, entertaining the staff, watching us work and growing. If there was time, we would take them to play in the creek or the river at the end of the day. They may not have been learning much by academic standards, but they more than made up for it in life experience.
Once I had researched the proper COVID protocol and come up with what we felt were safe measures for CSA deliveries, the second challenge came. The farm flooded back-to-back the first two weeks of CSA deliveries.
We rearranged the dates and used canoes to make sure those first weeks of harvest were not lost. The produce was in the field after all, above the flood. It was only the roads that were a problem. Thankfully, we resumed the normal, predictable schedule after those initial weeks.
June brought two employees needing to leave and one learning about and dealing with serious medical issues. It also brought ripening fruit on the tomato vines we had cared for over the course of several months. With the first harvested heirloom tomato came a reckoning in our country and across the globe. We listened, we read, we donated, we protested peacefully. We struggled with ways to make deep, long-lasting change and not simply a statement that made us feel better. We continue to work on this and towards this.
By the end of summer, we had eaten our weight in squash and cucumbers, brought on new staff members, planned for virtual school by hiring someone to help with that at home, and felt some sort of balance and acceptance with our life, different as it was from how we thought the year would be. I laugh at my February self, making a calendar of CSA events, one for each month.
In fall, we missed the hustle of preparation for the Harvest Party. It was the first time in 15 years that we did not host this event on the farm.
Now we start anew; new seeds, new soil, new dreams.
Here is to 2021 and being ready for the joys, challenges, and good food that it brings.
NEWS FROM THE BEND
From planting time to the growing and harvesting seasons,