News From the Farm | May 7, 2018

Mothers’ Day Prelude 2018

The landscape on and around the farm is noticeably shifting green to brown each day in this early May week. We find ourselves hanging on to the spring’s green-ness willing it to stay as long as possible. We are storing the memory of green deep, to be pulled up in the heat of the summer’s long days. These near perfect days of 80-degrees are kind to all life on the farm as we undertake our transitions through spring to summer.

The spring crops that you find in your box – lettuces, potatoes, carrots, greens and strawberries are nervously feeling temperatures that are creeping up and are urging us to hurry and get them out, keep them cool and move on, for their season is passing. 

It is a time when the cold weather loving plants are setting seed.  Grain is ripening. Bristly, awned heads atop of sturdy stalks are filling with plump kernels. In the next month, the heads will turn to a golden amber, completing a full turn of season. Then we shall harvest nature’s work – wheat or barley – where we, as farmers, set the stage and allowed the potential of the field to be made manifest. Tending the miraculous.  A marvel year after year.

The farm also has raucous white rows of arugula gone to flower, the deep purples of vetches and blaze of crimson clovers, alive with bees making the bargain of nectar and pollen for seed.  In flower fields, snapdragons are an exploding rainbow of popcorn-like blooms. Sweet Williams and agrostemma radiate their own splash of red and purple.  The farm is a flow of planting, tending, flowering, ripening and senescence, season after season. This spring has been one of the most perfect ever. I hope that this might be my thinking every upcoming spring that I have the chance to witness.

As farmers we are the tenders and stewards of this seasonal passage. To tend is to be faithful to the miraculous, to be full of hope, to allow the combinations of the work of making, and to bring forth both fruit and beauty. Work is creation that is often revealed in unanticipated ways.  It is a mistake to think that farming is only about bringing in a crop. The role of those who farm is to nurture life in all of its possible manifestations and thus bring forth beauty in color, or humming life, or a myriad of green, or songbirds going thorough their repertoire of tweeted halleluiahs, and also to fill the bins with grains, fruit or vegetables as part of the process.

We turn out thoughts to Mothers this week, who are themselves nurturers and tenders. Around the world, women are the primary growers of food, managers of fields as well as of household nourishment and family wellbeing.  Women farmers are often far more focused on the sustainability of their work: how their families, communities, and biodiversity are linked as their long-term responsibility. They know the miraculous power of plants and the beauty of flowers.  Their bodies, capable of growing and nurturing a seed within to make babies, are their flower, their mysterious power that is to be tended carefully for the strength of the stalk, the beauty of the bloom, or the character of the being. This is not self directed control, but a state of knowing through the capacity to experience.

We know the power of Mother character is to share and care because Mothers are intimate with wisdom of growing life. Their journey is lifelong. The same act of hope and love that is at the heart of holding responsibility for their offspring’s wellbeing, links to all who tend the act of creation. Mothers and farmers both enjoy the controlled and the uncontrollable, the wild and the tame, or the hoped-for and the unexpected. They have a lifelong commitment to the health of their community and household, and to the discovery of their children’s potential.  Understanding the miraculous comes when one allows the nature of the individual life to express itself as part of a healthy and complex whole.

It may be a week to think of the mothers and their families who are caught with their children at the borders, escaping the insanity of more guns or violence and who are torn from their homes as a desperate act of hope.  It is a time for empathy and compassion rather than bluster and fear. There would be no greater tragedy than to take ones children and leave ones home to escape violence. Our prayers on this Mothers’ day extend to them.

The act of growing a farm as a healthy diverse place with layers of life making it richer and more complex begets a satisfied wonder. The ability to guide and not guide at the same time is to both shape and respect the potential of that which is beyond ones control. I think that we are participants in a time when we might see our calling to create beauty, support diversity, cultivate empathy and nurture health and justice. These are grown from hope, humility and empathy rather than fear or threats of violence.

Even in the most green and glorious of springs, these May days also harbor the rascally determined weeds: foxtails, ripgut brome, filaree, burr clover or cocklebur that find ways to hitchhike on socks or pants, on a passing golden retriever, deer, or in the fleece of our sheep. These plants make seeds clever in their design, with hooks or one directional barbs to grab on and wiggle deep. These are the annual demon weeds that we are now mowing close to the ground to thwart their maturing.  But they will always be there.

We end up knowing that in a well tended garden, there are fewer of these rascally weeds because we have made the soil more fertile, addressed the reason for their wanting to grow, or found something more desirable to take their place.  The job of stewardship is lifelong, season turning to season in an inevitable unfolding where participation, creation and caring beget a marvelous reward.

If you would like to see our gardens this Mothers’ Day – buy your Mothers’ Day Garden tickets here.

Happy Mothers’ Day Week

—Paul Muller

Cherry Tomatoes coming soon!