Local, organic agriculture. Environmental education.

Out Out Damn Lion

Farm manager Mark RAs we try to go gentle into that good April, the tendency may be to keep complaining and lamenting our growing disposition.  March did exit like a lion with still chilly days, cold, snowy rain and brisk winds blowing through the green house end walls. But we softly opened the creaky, antique doors of the Main Barn (circa 1785) and sold some over wintered lettuce and kale, a few bottles of honey and syrup, as well as strong, perennial sprigs of thyme (who were happy to be revealed under the snow) and nearby cured organic soaps and salves.  It was a delight to see customers and Summer Camp families embrace thoughts of Summer and organic produce. More greens, determined seedlings and hardy plants will later appear as the Farm Stand will open officially for the season later in April.

Though I have shoveled many garden beds, and the farmer has placed landscape fabric over five garden beds in Hap’s Patch, the wait continues. Wait we must, as the temperature hovers just above freezing. But the rain showers are a welcome sign and on par for April. The dirty piles of snow will hopefully wilt in the rain. The ground will slowly warm. The compost piles will thaw. We will construct new garden beds in the education garden. A rock and stone herb garden will rise and perennially return. We will make seed plans for the Farm Pantry garden.

We will collaborate with schools, teachers, the cafeteria food service director and students in the city of Quincy. And as we look west, we will wonder how farmers and growers in California will cultivate and tend with near opposite conditions. For all our snow and confrontations with the long winter, the choices and compromises being handled in California are equally challenging. I hope we can show empathy in our own watering and desires for green lawns. Perhaps our priorities will change. If we make and utilize more compost, then the need is less for more water.  Growing produce, grassy yards and using sustainable practices may even wean the far too many folks who are swayed by TruGreen lawns and MiracleGro esults.  (For those who pay attention, why and how trust two companies who have difficulty spelling?!)

So let us go then, you growers, consumers and I, when the sun lingers long in the evening sky. With apologies and a nod to T. S. Eliot, we will face head on the slow thawing spring with hope for positive flowers come May. We’ll be prepared for a rise in prices for California vegetables and fruit. And we can be more determined to grow, shop and source locally. The roar of the lion will soon be a distant reminder of a long Winter, and a call to go outside to harvest and enjoy, with respect for that compromised, gentle environment.

© 2015, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm

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