As my time here on Earth Dance Farm is nearing an end, I thought it appropriate to reflect on exactly what I’ve gleaned from this experience: Blisters mainly, but also a wealth of practical concepts and ideas on how to survive as a farmer. Here are a few of those that I’ve deemed most critical for a successful farm:
The Element of Supplies
An otherwise pleasant task can be made practically intolerable without the proper tools. For instance, harvesting high yielding and heavy crops can be quite taxing on the back when done improperly. Laurie, in her endless wisdom, conjured up the idea of using baby slings as produce bags which are worn over the shoulder and make harvesting much easier
The Social Norm
At one early morning meeting, Norm discussed at length the topic of creating relationships with neighbors and other community members. We’ve procured many items here over the season by way of social networking.
When Norm needed a cultivating implement for his 1959 Farm-all tractor he recently purchased, he was able to find it locally through word of mouth when all our internet scouring and phone calls lead nowhere. Being a relatively small farm, we can’t always necessitate the purchase of equipment needed for one or two projects.
Norm has set up a mutually beneficial arrangement with a neighbor, Joe, who owns large machinery we are sometimes in need of. Joe harvests and keeps much of the hay grown on the farm inexchange for fully supplying us with our hay needs. This way, Norm doesn’t have to invest in any machinery and both parties receive a fair split of the crop. It’s been said that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It’s good to know Joe.
Minnesota 2020 often writes about Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), usually providing the user or operator’s perspective. This essay, however, features what it’s like for the front line worker laboring to plant, weed, and pick the freshest produce. (This is the first of a two part essay.)
Casey Peterson was an intern at Earth Dance Farm in Houston Count