Winter Planting

It comes as a surprise each year–it’s time to plant.  So much of farming is an act of anticipation.  Long before we’d consider discing in the cover crop, we’re seeding the crops in the greenhouse that will be planted in the fields in April, maybe sooner if the weather continues to be so mild.  10,000 onions, 1,000 parsley, 1,000 kale and chard, broccoli and on and on.  It has been an empty shell of a greenhouse since the last transplants were brought out in June.  Now we’re blending potting soil, filling flats and shaking out seed, covering the empty benches with the promise of an abundant season.  A neglected corner of the farm is again full of life.

They call it contingency planning:  What do you do if…  So, since we’ve had two wet springs the last two years that have delayed planting, we’re not missing any opportunities to make hay while the sun shines, so to speak.  We’ve seeded arugula, salad turnips and beets in the field already.  Next opportunity, we’ll lay down row after row of carrots.  The irony is that we’re planting now because we anticipated a wet spring based on the past two years of wet weather.  Last winter, I was convinced that the weather we had experienced in 2010 couldn’t be repeated.  As we all know, it most certainly was.  This year has been anything but wet.  Still, the preparations we made in the Fall to make sure we could plant have proven to be equally effective in a dry year like the one we’re having.  So, all for the better.

As most of you know by now, we’ve decided not to continue with CSA subscription boxes for the coming season.  I’m happy to say that our plans have been greeted with excitement and anticipation.  As you can imagine, Jo and I have spent a great deal of time since last summer planning for the changes we’re initiating for the coming season.  My hope is that the interest in local food has developed to the point that our farm can be sustained by the community’s enthusiasm and the quality of our produce.  For your understanding and support, we are grateful.

My personal aspiration is to farm more artfully in the coming years.  This farm has always been beautiful, but I expect it can be moreso.  I want to farm to our strengths, produce gorgeous and tasty food, and be assured that all of you are buying what you need when you need it, and that we as a farm can serve our community in many ways.

Over the years I’ve been farming here at Riverhill, I’ve grown to love this place.  My hands are stained the color of this earth, and I’ve made the soil a part of me through the daily eating of food grown here.  When I stand in the middle of our growing fields and close my eyes, I can see, even feel, every contour that surrounds me.  I can tell you where the rocks are, where the best soil is, where we can plant early, where the worst weeds are.

But the pleasure I feel is incomplete without the sound of your voices, best of all the children.  We work hard, but for what?  For you.  The moment when all of this makes sense is the moment when your chattering voices, like the sound of the songbirds, fill the air of the farm with delight and pleasure.

Photo courtesy of Alicia Berardi

We’ll feel the tiredness in our bones at the end of the day, we’ll plant and weed and trellis and plant some more.  We’ll take our cup of coffee in the morning and watch the light fill the trees and slowly work its way into the long shadows across our growing fields, and we’ll anticipate your return.  With some luck and good weather, we’ll have a great season.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

2 thoughts on “Winter Planting

  1. I can’t believe it either, but the calendar is telling me to ready the potting soil in the greenhouse. here’s hoping for a warm spring without a late freeze or hail.

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