Giving Thanks

Admittedly, I still am confused, almost daily, as to what time of year this is. I keep thinking it's earlier or later than it really is and then wake up startled to realize it's almost Thanksgiving and we have to get the rest of these crops out of the ground!  Maybe it's because it was such a long summer. Or maybe because we didn't start harvesting cauliflower until November. Whatever the reason, I remain disoriented (and even more so this past week).

But despite being so unsure of so many things, one thing I now know, is that indeed this growing season is in fact nearing an end. After countless hours of preparation and planning. After hiring our crew, and then welcoming them, orienting them, training them, and working with them. After plowing, bed making, seeding, planting, cultivating, and harvesting. After waiting for rain, and then making it rain. And after bringing in the fruits of our labors during these past three months of fall harvest. It is now truly coming to an end.

And where does this all leave us? What is the story that we will tell ourselves about this season? What are the lasting images and memories that we will keep once the last bucket is emptied and stacked on the harvest shed wall?  We probably won't know for sure for a while, but here's a first draft.....

Certainly, the main theme will be the extreme drought that we endured during the months of June, July, August, and September. Over those 16 weeks, we received a grand total of about 3" of rain. Our normal rainfall is about 14" during those times. Our ability to make it through this "30-year weather event" was largely enabled by the hard work of our crew as well as the important investment we made (in the name of our supporting community) in water resources over the past 30 years.

We know that no matter how many hopes and dreams we may have for our little farm, none would come true without the help of our three apprentices (John, Rebecca, and Sunny), who came to work each day from 6am - 5pm from April 'til Thanksgiving. These folks formed the backbone of the labor necessary to turn this farm from thoughts to 250,000 lbs of delicious, nutritious vegetables. Beyond that core, our Weeder Crew (see week 11), our Harvest Crew (Sydney, Oli, Sam, Morgan, Lukas), our Fall Harvest Crew (JStubbs and volunteers Kate & Abbe), and our long-term staff (Abbe, Ken) make the magic happen with daily and seasonal contributions. Karen, Zoe, and I figure out how to manage this great cacaphony, hopefully putting the resources in the just the right places for them to do the most good. Mostly, we are happy just trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Standing behind all of this day-to-day labor is you (and the you's that have come before). In this, our 30th anniversary year, we were struck just how important this long-standing commitment has been to our work here. When we dug our pond at Snyder Farm in 1997, we borrowed nearly $10,000 to invest in the pond, pump, and pipes to move water. And in 2001, we borrowed an additional $30,000 to dig our well at Hulst Rd and bury the lines to carry that water around our core 8 acres. We did so on a hope and prayer. The hope and prayers that you would pay it back, slowly-but-surely for the next 30 years as investors in our dream - that's you (and the you's before you). Without that support for our vision. Without that investment of your money. Without that funding of infrastructure, when the drought hit this year, and we went to turn on the spigot, there wouldn't have been any water. Come to think of it, there wouldn't have been a spigot, either.

This year, when we went for the spigot, we felt you all behind us. Like we do every year, but especially when we were faced with a big challenge, with a big chunk of labor that we needed to address this challenge. Our labor was made useful, because we had the tools to do our job. Who would want more than a job to do? And who would want more than to have the tools to to the job that they want to do? And for that, we give the deepest thanks of all. For letting us do this work one more year. To do something for all of us. To grow our food. And take care of our land. Just so that we will perhaps be able to do it all again next year.   We will go to bed now. Take a big nap. And when we awake, we hope to find you here again. Ready to help us write this story, one more time.

We hope you have enjoyed the harvest.

Your Farmer,
Dan
(for Karen, Abbe, Zoe, John, Rebecca, and Sunny)