The local farmstands are filling up with apples, squash, and pumpkins (those who were lucky enough to get a squash crop out of this tough season), Walden Pond shimmers with the most exquisite fall light, and my pantry is overflowing with pickled beets and carrots, salsa, applesauce, raspberry jam, pumpkin butter, dried peaches, and more. For most farms, now is the time to wind down, spread cover crop, put the fields to bed, and look forward to a winter of well-earned rest after an especially hard season. Not at First Root! We had our first big planning meeting last weekend, and our to-do list for the next few months grows daily. We’re looking forward to spending these gorgeous fall days out on the land, clearing the hedgerows around our field, cutting back brush, starting a compost pile, spreading cover crop, and planting garlic.
But getting our land ready is just the beginning — as we are both learning, starting a farm is an endless list of details. We are in the midst of collecting tools and equipment — many thanks to all the generous folks who have donated their no-longer-needed hoes and rakes and boxes of nails and screws! We’ll spend many pleasant hours this winter doing inventory: sorting, fixing, sharpening, and oiling all the treasures we’ve rescued from garages, attics, basements and sidewalks. We’ll also be putting together our crop plan, selling CSA shares (more info coming soon!), making the barn and pastures ready for our cow in the spring, and planning our spring and summer workshops, events, and celebrations.
As First Root Farm at BRF grows from a dream into a reality, I find myself more excited, more energized, more creative, more grateful. Each day that I stash away a few more tools in the barn, or spend a few hours on the land hauling brush, pulling weeds and cutting back goldenrod and grasses, I am overwhelmed by how lucky I am to have stumbled across this opportunity in the midst of such a supportive, farm-loving community. Even though we haven’t planted a seed and there’s already a new crop of weeds coming up in our freshly plowed field, when I’m standing in the middle of that acre, or sitting at the dining room table on rainy Sunday afternoon, calculating how much garlic we’ll need to plant, I am overwhelmed, not with stress and worry, but with visions.
I envision a field bursting with kale and sungolds, summer squash and cucumbers, red and green lettuce, tongue of fire beans, purple cabbage, and broccoli. I envision a field of folks picking plum tomatoes and sugar snap peas and sunflowers, children learning how beans grow and reveling in the deliciousness of a vine-ripe, sun-warmed tomato. I envision long days of good work that uses muscle and leaves me feeling full. I envision singing in the carrots and story-telling while hoeing lettuce. I envision shared meals full of the bounty of this unique place. I envision clear summer days and muddy spring ones, exhausting harvests in the rain and invigorating afternoons spent planting. I envision a working farm: not perfect, not easy, and not always fun, but a good very place to spend my days.
I love physical work and I love details: two of the reasons I adore farming so much. But it isn’t just the weeding and the planting and the harvesting that makes a farm run, nor is it just the attention to the details of color and texture and flavor. The farms that I love most are full of people with drive, people with seemingly endless reserves of energy, people with vision. That’s the kind of farm I hope that First Root will become.