Garlic as Metaphor

Sunday March 29, 2020

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Thank you. I truly think you’re all amazing. We are trying to get food to you the best that we can, and I appreciate that you’re showing up for us in a new delivery format and adjusting to our safety protocols at the Portland farmers’ market. We are a community and we’re in this together.

Business first:

  • Pre-boxed shares and home deliveries continue. Delivery locations and details are in the header of the order link for each item.
  • We are not able to personally customize boxes at this time.
  • It ’tis the end of March in Maine. We are providing as much diversity as we can.
  • We plan to continue to attend the Portland farmers’ market for the foreseeable future. We’ll be at our winter location (but outside!), 631 Stevens Ave from 9-1 each Saturday.
  • Buying a Dandelion debit card is very helpful during this time. We will hold it at the register with your name on it. We request this because it enables less human contact. Neither of us need to have the extra touching that credit card, cash, or check require. If you think you’ll spend at least $100 with us this year, we highly encourage signing up for a debit card. They don’t expire.

Nature as metaphor

Our garlic sprouted early and big this year. These plants are about endurance. We plant the cloves on Columbus Day or a little later now that global warming is also a reality. We hope for them to set roots in the weeks before the ground freezes, which helps to hold them in place before the soil starts to freeze and thaw through the winter. This secures them underground and gives them a head start to Spring growth (and ultimately bigger bulbs) when days and nights are generally above freezing, but ideally we don’t want them to be established well enough that they start to sprout from the top prior to days and nights mostly above freezing.

Around the beginning of March when we first lost most of our snow cover I discovered that, albeit under several inches of straw, our garlic sprouts were already several inches tall. It felt like it was a jump start on the season that both made me nervous.  Likewise, Covid 19 has put me in a similar place of growth and intensity than I normally experience in March.

Early growth for garlic means continuing to push it’s way through to the light, and dealing with the adversity of late winter snow falls, cold nights, and then warm spring days. There is seemingly no rhythm to the weather this time of year, and week to week I can’t tell of the garlic is pausing to reflect the weather or simply continuing a steady, slow growth. When I check on it after a particularity cold spell I’m certain that it has all frozen to death and thousands of dollars of new seed investment last year was for naught. On warmer days, it looks like it is a survivor, slow growing, steady on, with a willingness to take whatever is in front of it.

Like all farmers I’ve been playing the push of an unusual spring season in terms of intensity of business management.  I think it is important as a farmer to be confident in this early season wake-up call and keep pushing ahead. There is a call for more local food. There is a call for more nutrition. Hanging onto the metaphor, if I and Dandelion Spring are the new sprout, am I putting myself and my business at risk by sticking my neck out early? There is my physical risk of exposure, and as a single woman at helm, who will have my back if needed? There is a risk of business exposure; by putting my energy into a pivot to make up for lost markets am I distracting myself from the normal March work that needs attention in order for us to be set up well for the season ahead?   Can we do it all?

My answer is seemingly like my garlic plants. I’m foraging ahead, pushing hard earlier this Spring than I planned, and what is ahead of us really does feel and look like positive growth.  Like many of you, I’m constantly shaking my head at the news and disheartened by the tragedy that is literally around all of us.  I’ve a lot of sadness.  And, I’m also feeling optimistic for us as a culture.  We’ve got work to do.  Before Covid 19 became our reality, I quietly pledged to give my all to 2020. It felt like a year to go all in. Apparently the garlic took this message to heart too, and here we go. Continuing to feel healthy and strong, I want to bring you all of the food that I possibly can in 2020. We need it. We need each other.

Yours, in the game of nutrition,

– Farmer Beth

Sunday March 29, 2020

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