News From the Farm | April 4, 2016

Last summer it seemed like we were short-handed a lot of days.  There were crops we just never got to picking, fields that we had to abandon for lack of care, and weeds that marched along as if to take over the farm.  That isn’t to say that a whole lot of wonderful fruits and vegetables didn’t get picked and eaten— it just seemed like the farm was running ragged at the edges a lot of the time. A lot of days it seemed as if a triage process was taking place, with a jostle of many tasks requiring attention, and a good number of people demanding priority for the activities that they thought were the most important, overlaid on a reality in which only the most urgent activities got anywhere near done.   

Actually, there’s a time like that every year, when everyone on the farm is moving fast, focussed on an immediate task and timeline. There are around 5 months of the year when we plan for ‘all hands on deck’… These are the months when the harvest dominates every day.  Each member of our crew plays a critical part in the choreography of harvesting, packing, truck loading and dozens of other activities, each of which is critical to the success of the whole endeavor.  We are a business in which no detail is small, the effort of each person has consequence, and we are all striving for a balance and equilibrium when Mother Nature and farm reality will synch up in harmony.

Last summer, in the midst of this managed chaos, two of our long-term employees, husband and wife, presented themselves in the office to say that they were leaving, that very day, no, that very hour, for Mexico, with an uncertain, unknown time of return, in fact probably not likely to return.  Their reason for leaving was confused.  The mother was very sick, maybe dying.  But then, with further discussion it seemed that the mother wasn’t really sick, and not dying at all, but she needed them to return quickly. Finally, the story came out that the mother was a mystic and a vision had come to her that northern California was about to suffer some horrible catastrophe.  She was calling her children home to save them from the certain suffering and terror about to engulf the state.

The power of this vision had been so strong that it had convinced our two employees that there was no time to lose, they were picking up their lives and leaving immediately.  Talking with them, I thought to myself, ‘well, we’ll see what happens.’  Absorbed in the calculation of how to cover their responsibilities after they left, the power of their prediction of imminent catastrophe was lost on me.

I hope that my two friends are happy now, back in Mexico with their families, having escaped whatever fate would have found them if they had stayed here. Months later, Full Belly is still rooted in the present and the place — we are at a time of year when the possibilities of the season are bursting forth and everyone is optimistic and hopeful.  The flower season is taking off with a big bang, the fruit trees are promising a big crop, and the soil is full of moisture. Baby plants are ready to be transplanted from the greenhouse to the field, and the UPS driver keeps delivering bags full of of seeds that someone is planning to plant as soon as the fields are ready. There are lambs jumping around in the pasture and chicks starting to grow into hens.  Our slate is full of projects to complete, each one a step forward along the Full Belly Farm path.

Here’s hoping for a successful harvest season! If this were the time to make a birthday wish for the next season, let’s wish that the weeds will lie dormant, there will be plenty of good crew members, all the crops will be cared for, and the terrors of unknown catastrophe will shrivel and evaporate.  With you, our CSA members, as partners, we are looking forward to the coming year!

— Judith Redmond