August Reflections from Kate
From our Farm Manager Kate:
To many, working on a farm is idyllic: fresh vegetables, sunshine, fresh air, working with your hands. It is all of those things, and many reasons why we do what we do. But what keeps us going late into the season when we’re tired is different. Many of us feel responsibility to take care of the land, feed people food free from chemicals, and to create connections with people on the basic notion that we all have to eat. If you’ve ever volunteered at Blue Moon, you might also know the other side of working on a farm: hard work, in all weather conditions, with a deadline that must be met. Some people enjoy getting a taste of that each week, and we are so grateful to our weekly worker share volunteers for their hard work and good company. Others may come once, and realize that weeding for four hours is not their cup of tea, and that’s ok!
I’ve learned in my short 7 years of farming that what keeps you going is that strong desire to grow healthy food, soils, and connections. We have been blessed with an amazing crew who gives their all, even when it means harvesting through thistle, rain, and mud, or weeding carrots, one of the most tedious jobs, for hours on end. On the good days, we laugh a lot, share good food, and get the work done. On the hard days, we tell bad jokes, sing songs, and every once in a while, do the hokey-pokey to stretch out our tired backs.
We work in close quarters: harvesting side-by-side, planting and weeding across the bed from one another. We learn about each others’ families, travels, and life goals. We get to know each other well by the end of the season. Our conversations are intermittent as we move from one task to another. Sometimes, silence is nice, too. In those moments, we notice the interesting bugs, feel the cool breeze against our sweaty skin, or hear a group of sandhill cranes fly overhead. We all came here for different reasons, but are happy to share it together.
My story goes a little like this: in college, I studied horticulture and wasn’t sure what to do after graduating. I interned at Olbrich Gardens for a summer and stayed on into the fall. The same summer I also began working on a vegetable farm. Some days, I was working in a very public setting, where school groups and families could learn about and appreciate plants. For many, it was the first experience they had with gardens. I loved being able to share my love of growing plants with others. The rest of the time, I was doing hard, dirty work growing food. For me, the days I spent at the farm producing something tangible at the end of the day were so fulfilling. When my head hit the pillow at the end of the day, I was tired for a good reason. It felt good. Six years later, I’ve learned so much about vegetables, tractors, raising animals and how to operate a successful farm. The thing that hasn’t changed: that same fulfilling exhaustion at the end of a farm day.