As the crew hurriedly and with great haste hustles to harvest the bounty that is a September harvest, it is also a time to hustle to finish up projects before the rains come! September is the great intersection of summer and fall: where sweet juicy tomatoes sit next your beets on a dinner plate, where the fog sits heavy in the valley in those sweet cool mornings, where you wear your sweatshirts for a couple hours longer in the morning. It’s a month where you reflect on the summer, think towards next season, plant bulbs and seeds that will nourish us next year, and prepare our bodies for the heavy lifting of fall and winter storage crops. Farming is a constant balance of being in the present moment of the season but also looking ahead to prepare and implement important and systematic changes for next season. How can we improve this system? What can we build to make this more efficient? What went well? What didn’t go well? Can we purchase anything that will create more efficiency?
This always makes me think back to previous years and all the changes that have been implemented in my 5 seasons on the farm. When I first started working here in 2018, we had two refrigerated coolers to store all of our vegetables. This meant we would cart crates of vegetables and lift them up to truck and restack them. In order to create a more efficient system, it was finally time to invest in a walk-in cooler. Now everything is palletized and the cooler is connected to the pack shed with a concrete pad so one person can move about 50 crates of broccoli into the cooler in one step. This HIGHLY increased efficiency and also allowed us more space to store vegetables. And more space was great because we had also expanded production into a new 5-acre field. And with this new cooler system, it was time to upgrade our delivery truck to one with a lift gate. Now all of the pallets in the cooler can be easily moved into the truck and delivered to the world. Since I’ve been here we’ve gotten 3 more tractors, built 1 new beautiful propagation house, acquired an new (old) harvest truck, went from hand digging potatoes to getting a PTO-powered potato digger, and a tractor tulip bulb planter. All these changes happened slowly over time but make a monumental difference in the way we work around here. All these improvements are better for our bodies and minds! And that translates to better quality and more quantity of vegetables. It’s fun to take a look back to see how far the farm has come in its 15 years.
When you receive your share this week, I urge you to zoom out and not just think about how this cantaloupe will make a great snack, but truly think about all the systems, all the trucks, all the greenhouses, all the cooler space, all the tractors, and all the PEOPLE that went into producing a cantaloupe. This whole farm is one big living organism that is constantly changing and improving, and I will forever be in awe of that. Now I’m off to help Lane fix some roads that will make transporting the vegetables in the wet winter months a lot easier, a project that has been in the works for a couple of years.