Tis “The Season”

When we started the internship we kept hearing the farmers talk about “the summer season” when things go crazy on the farm. Back in April, Betsey would take us all out for coffee in the middle of the morning, or Brian would treat us to ice cream after lunch. “Don’t get to used to this,” they would say, “it’s slow right now, we can take a break.” They were only half joking. “Wait til The Season kicks in,” I kept hearing. “Wait til the tomatoes come on. Everything’s going to change around here!”

April, May, and June seemed like a busy enough time to me! It was a lot of work learning new tasks every day, getting comfortable with the workings of the two farms, taking on more and more responibility, becoming more self-directed. I never felt like things were particularly slow during “the slow season.”

But now, just within the last two weeks, I can feel the change. “The Season” is upon us. Some indicators: the volume of produce at Brian’s stand increased dramatically so now we need to bring extra tents and tables. The variety increased a lot too- We have tomatoes and zucchini and cucumbers for sale now in addition to all the greens and carrots and springtime things. Betsey’s crops are starting to be ready for harvest now too; I got to dig potatoes for the first time this week. Garlic harvest is a huge project that will happen all at once this next week or so.

The summer is a time of sleep deprivation for Betsey and Brian and us interns too. The long days and warmer weather have done their job on the crops and there is a lot ready for harvest. If things don’t get picked at the right moment, they get over-mature and are no good for sale. Those vegetables don’t run on our time schedule – when they’re ready they’re ready and we need to harvest them. So the farmers pull long days and we apprentices try to help as much as we can. I’m burning the candle at both ends a bit; evidenced by the fact that I’m posting this at 1:15 am and I plan to be working at 7:30 tomorrow. Oopsies!

With so many things to do it’s easy to forget to take a moment and appreciate what is going on here: all our springtime work is starting to pay off. Seeds that we planted back in April grew into baby plants that we transplanted into the field in May and now we are harvesting broccoli. Crazy! As we ate some zucchini for dinner tonight Erin and I recalled how we had planted those plants into the greenhouse during the very first week of our apprenticeship. It is amazing to me that I’m able to be here doing this in this place with these people… I’m trying to savor every minute of it as it flies by ever faster. Here’s to summer- the tomato Season with all the work and all the bounty that it brings.

As always, new pictures here:


First week pics on flickr

We did our first farmers’ market today!  Lots of Bainbridge Islanders came out in the cold morning to support the opening day of the market.  It was incredibly cool to see this from a new perspective:  selling food that I’m proud of because I’ve had a part in growing it and harvesting it.  Knowing exactly what it took to get that food to where these people are buying it.  Knowing that the people are going to take it home and eat it for dinner the day after it was picked and within a couple miles of where it was grown.

Here are pics of the four of us apprentices manning (womaning?) the two booths.  More pics of fun stuff (me driving a tractor, for one) are at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/warnerbecky/sets/72157623828028506/

It has now been 6 days in a row of work… Now I’m going to go and SLEEP for awhile.

Bex and Renee at Brian's market booth

Erin and Stacy at Betsey's booth

First week update

Well, week 1 of farming is well underway and already I’m too busy to find time to blog 🙂 I’ll upload pictures soon I promise!

It has been a good first few days. Moved my stuff over here Sat with help from awesome Seattle friends and Betsey even treated us all to a little tasting at the winery. Then Sunday was spent settling into my room at the house and getting to know the other apprentices (houseful of girls… Gonna be trouble! ;-). Then Monday it was off to work.

This is the “slow” time at the beginning of the season, but Betsey and Brian are good at coming up with stuff for us to do. Today, for example, I worked with Brian and fellow apprentice Renee and we put in about 500 brassica plants of different types — collards, kale, broccoli raab and kohlrabi. We prepped the beds (Renee and I got to try out driving the tractor!) and fertilized, laid out the transplants and then planted them. We also fed the pigs (14 of them) who are getting an organic diet of grain and whey from a nearby goat dairy that would otherwise be thrown away.

This upcoming Saturday will be our first farmers market. Next week, we aprentices (me, Stacy, Renee and Erin) are taking a 3 day trip with Betsey to a draft horse equipment auction in Oregon. After that, we will settle into a regular farm schedule.

Other than adjusting to a schedule where I actually have to wake up at a certain time in the morning (unlike working in software… Ha!) I’m feeling great. It is a good little community here, a culture of sharing and supporting each other that I really appreciate. I miss my Seattle friends already though 🙂

I’ll write again soon with pictures!

Look, Mom, I’m farming

Betsey took this awesome picture of me getting ready to attempt cultivating the garlic with Sam a couple weeks ago.   That mid-March day was warm and sunny t-shirt weather.  For my moving day tomorrow, it is shaping up to be 45 degrees and constant drizzle.   Oh well!

Working with Sam has been really fun.   She is very calm and attentive and knows how to do her job.  I’m looking forward to learning more about using draft horses and also watching the development of the two young fillies that Betsey has in training.  Cool stuff.

Next time I write I’ll be living at the farm!