Farming as Labor, Craft, Art.. and Nutrition

Sunday April 23, 2023

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A quote I carried around for years begins, “Farming is Labor, Craft, & Art…  “ (Ernest Wilhelm).  I’ve loved those words for their poetic nature, but this morning, while sitting in an old apple tree, I started to think about how those three parts are distinguished in the farm world. 

Labor – We move our bodies.  

Most of the time, everyday, the farm crew is in motion.  Sometimes their feet may be still, but their hands are busy.  I imagine a farmer standing while efficiently moving seedlings from one small starter tray to bigger pots.  Or two members of the crew sitting on the back of a transplanter with someone driving the tractor as slow as possible, while four hands are moving at rapid speed. 

Feet moving, I often think about what I’m carrying – can it be more?  Less? What am I forgetting?  Should I be in a truck?  Have a cart?   Efficient movements are in many ways what makes or breaks the bottom line of a farm.  

The labor required to grow our food comes from real human hands and hearts.  The physicality of our chosen style of farming is also one of the elements that makes our food special.  Our whole selves have truly touched every leaf, root, fruit and flower. 

Craft –  How we do our work with age old and modern practices that help to determine our rhythms.  

This is our style.  

This is our ode to the farmers who paid attention for centuries before us and developed tools, determined styles of planting that would preserve soil nutrients, or protect plants from predators.  This is the design of our favorite type of hoe, or the tractor that is just the right width to cultivate beds that the average human torso can reach across. 

Art – Nature itself.  The incredible beauty in the shape of the tree branch, the first true leaves of a seedling, the sky that brings us sun, rain, and snow.  

I think the art is the driver.  It is what we can’t control, but we can pay attention to and perhaps try to mimic with our craft.  We can look at the diversity of the forest and ask the question how that can apply to our vegetable beds.  It is perhaps replicable… or maybe simply pure in what exists outside of the human hands.  

From the human element, the production farmer lens, maybe it is our design at market – allowing the wild to mix with the free.  An awareness of color, and texture.   It is our necessity to roll with what comes before us.  We can make spreadsheets and have goals and meticulous plans, but nature wins.  We don’t set the evening temperatures or length of daylight.  We fold into the patterns of the natural world that is much greater than ourselves.   The folding is part of the art of agriculture. 

Nutrition:  I want to add this to the list.  Farming is how we feed ourselves, this land, and you.  A lot of food that is available to us may look  nice on the outside, but is not nutrient dense.  Food that is truly alive  was grown with care within the whole system – nutrient rich food holds the labor, craft, and art.  

Healthy and well intentioned hands.  A mindfulness to practices good for production and the environment.  A respect for art and holding intention for the inherent life forms that we’re growing and harvesting with and from. 

In this moment, I’ll say the nutrition is also perhaps how we share our food.  Eating with others, food can carry a different type of nutrition.  Sitting with someone on a hill top and looking at a horizon,  laughing with a bunch of peers at a corner table of a restaurant, a quiet family dinner where the day’s stories are interspersed with the passing of plates.  

What type of container did the food come in?  When was it harvested?  

What brings food alive?  What was the intention of the farmer who grew it?

– – – 

Markets start for us Saturday April 29th and Thursday May 4th.   We look forward to being back in the parks on the regular, connecting by sharing a hello and also some vegetables.  It is our goal to bring you as nutrient dense of a diet as possible.  We’ll do our best to consciously hold the labor, the craft, and the art.  Sincerely looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Farmers’ Markets:

– Portland, Saturdays, Deering Oaks park, 7am-1pm  (our stand is just north of the stone bridge, not far from the center of the market)

– Rockland, Thursdays, Harbor park, 9am-1pm 

Pre-order for fast pick-up!:  Order online before 6am on Tuesday for pick-up:Portland, Wednesday, at Oxbow Brewing on Washington Ave, 5pm-7pm

Rockland, Thursday, pick up at market: Harbor park, 9am-1pm 

Bowdoinham, bags will be ready by 4pm Wednesday.  Pick-up anytime Wednesday-Friday.  

Bowdoinham Event pick-up:  Only if you are attending a weekend event, Order before 6am Friday, pick-up at your event 

CSA Spring savings!  Our 10% addition to market shares continues until April 30th. 

You can sign up here!

Sunday April 23, 2023

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