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April 30, 2015
A CSA Farmer's Day
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
You might think the Farmer is a recluse. A man who rides his tractor in glorious weather, keeping this thoughts to himself. You might think farming provides and escape from the "real world," with its fast pace and people politics. Imagine a man walking out of his corporate high-rise, donning a pair of worn Carhartts, shedding his tie and arriving on 90 acres. Outside. What is this man's day like?
What few people realize is that farming has as much to do with people as it has to do with crops. In the height of the season as many as 20 employees populate our fields, greenhouses and pack house. Arriving at the something-crack of dawn, they scurry, or saunter to their respective positions. Field crew gather tools, for planting, weeding, harvesting, staking, stringing, did I mention weeding? No Roundup (herbicide) on this farm! One guy tends to tractor maintenance and repair, and then motors across the lengthy fields, spreading compost, tilling, laying beds and cultivating. A full time job at the height of the season. One person heads to the nursery, seeding, pricking out babies and carefully monitoring the health of your future supper.
The Pack House crew heads for the pack house, go figure! They prepare for the onslaught of the day's harvest. They wash, glean and pack each crop. When the CSA begins they assemble online orders and custom pack each box. The driver loads the truck on delivery days and wends his way through the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia, dropping boxes at over 20 locations. And don't forget the Farmer's wife, communicating with the vegetable eaters while keeping her finger in the cut-flower operation.
Where does that leave the Farmer? With a long list of people to talk to! Field manager, pack house manager first. Nursery manager, driver and employees with needs, questions, or problems that need to be addressed. Farmer's Wife sprinkled throughout the day, but mostly after dark. Of course supplies need to be ordered, tacked on to a long list of vendors to communicate with. Let's not forget the customers at markets and the duties as market manager.
Now if you really knew the Farmer, you might think he would be perfectly happy to have a small plot of land, head out alone in the morning and work the fields in solitude. Perhaps he'd happily accept a little visit by his Wife, bringing an iced tea and sandwich. How romantic!
But this ever-growing CSA community invites him to broaden his world. He must call on his higher faculties of political and diplomatic verse day in and day out. Every day is a reminder of how diverse, and yet how common humanity is. The Farm has created a community of people connected by vegetables. The hard work and effort to grow these relationships brings richness and life to our work. In the end it is these human interactions that feed us, as much as the vegetables we grow.