Down on the Farm, a Week in Vegetables
Waking up early, harvesting, transplanting, tasting the lettuce, and lots, lots more.
You may not believe me, but waking up early is one of the joys of farm life. This time of year, we wake up before 5:00 A.M. The actual waking-up part can be rough, but once we're up, the air is cool, everything is quiet, and the light turns slowly as the sun rises. We eat a hearty breakfast and discuss the plan for the day. Soon, the woods are stirring, and the birds are singing. It's a 5-minute walk down the road to the farm. The walk is pleasant, and though the list of tasks can be overwhelming, the whole day stretches out ahead of us.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are our harvest days. We hustle to harvest before the sun gets strong and causes everything to wilt. Greens get washed and dried; roots get hosed down. Everything goes in the cooler to chill before being weighed, bagged, and packed into our custom CSA boxes. On Tuesdays, Gordon drives to Chapel Hill and Carrboro to deliver while I stay behind to do our weekly seeding in the greenhouse. On Thursdays, I drive to Hillsborough and Durham to deliver while Gordon does field work.
Once we've harvested a crop, we turn the bed over to plant the next crop-ideally that same day. We clear it of any weeds and remaining plants, aerate the soil with a broadfork, add compost, and either transplant or direct sow the next crop. When that's done? There's also mowing, irrigating, record-keeping, communicating with chefs and CSA members, pruning, trellising, trying to fix things, and all the other unexpected things that keep us on our toes.
We wrap up each week by walking the farm. We note which crops are on their way out and which crops are coming up. We taste a leaf of lettuce to see if it's still sweet and make a list of what we'll harvest next. During the week, it's easy to get caught up in the details, but this is the time to step back and see the whole farm and to bask in the abundance.
Sunday is our day off, a day to rest, do laundry, and get ready for another full week on the farm. Eventually, we hope to take Saturdays off as well, but...we're not quite there yet.
Follow Vera and Gordon's growing season-they'll be sharing their stories with us every Thursday here on marthastewart.com.