News from the Farm | July 24, 2023

I love looking through the years of archived Beet newsletters. They document wet years, dry years, the experiences of many interns who’ve long left the farm, important milestones (like our transition to the plastic boxes, as well as weddings, births, trips, deaths), and events that have come and gone, and bigger issues that we still deal with today (water, labor availability, organic regulations). This isn’t just a resources I have at my disposal; the archives going back to October 2012 are all available online! Not the entire Beet, but the News from the Farm portion. 

For those, like me, who are relatively newer to the farm, it’s a great window into what has and hasn’t changed, and puts everything in context. Often, when I think I have an original idea for the Beet, a quick search in archives shows that someone probably has talked about that topic before, albeit in a slightly different way, probably even on that same date, just years (or decades) before.

After finding the note about the switch to plastic boxes ten years ago, I was curious what else was going on. Judith’s writing from July 22, 2013 (almost exactly ten years to the date) perfectly captures the feeling and vibe of the farm today. Though one factor is different; the past two weeks have been really hot, but overall, it’s been a relatively cool summer. Still, I couldn’t capture things better than she did, so for your reading pleasure, see this vintage News from the Farm, which feels remarkable current. 

Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager

This has been a very hot summer so far. Our thermometers are regularly showing the high 90’s and not uncommonly several digits above 100°. We tell guests that we’re lucky to have Cache Creek to cool down in, but with the heat comes an intense farming season and there have been few sightings of farmers in the creek.

There are several months of each year when crop production in each of the fields is so prodigious that even our veteran crews will be overwhelmed trying to keep up. We run out of picking boxes, we have too little cooler space, there is no time to pick the specialty crops that we grow in small quantities, and we do not have enough trays for the fruit that we dry in the sun. 

Standing in any particular place on the farm, no matter where it is, and catching ones breath while looking around, this farmers is struck first by a sense of amazement at the loveliness of some of our fields, and second with a checklist of all the things, from that specific vantage point, that should have gotten done yesterday: Johnson Grass (a nasty weed) taking over the fields, tomatoes that should have been staked and tied, plants in the hedgerow that have died, flowers that should have been picked to dry for winter projects, and a compost pile that needs to be turned. 

This is the Full Belly dichotomy: beautiful, delicious produce in the midst of ongoing challenges; striving for perfection and sustainability and knowing that it will never be reached; appreciation of the gifts given by this farm while chafing at the farm as a taskmaster!