“How come the lawns at the houses are so perfectly green?” asked my sister-in-law, who resides in France. She was visiting Holly Hill Farm and learning about all the effort to grow organic produce, care for the woods and make sure the animals have the food, shelter and space they need.
The lawns, at this time of year especially, are ripe for growth and lush with the green, green grass of spring. We are receiving lots of rain, plenty of sun and the grass is certainly growing, a great recipe for growing a green lawn.
Many a green lawn can also thrive and benefit with frequent visits from the Tru Green, Chem Lawn, landscapers and Scott’s trucks. These trucks, driven by backpack wearing chemical spraying attendants, are often double parked these days, as they spend ample time adding synthetic fertilizers and ready to round up any willing dandelions or non-grass seedlings.
The workers then leave a little yellow flag warning children not to play. The sign is so small it does not have time to warn wandering dogs or the local water system that these fertilizers can then infiltrate the water system, thus affecting the residents who drink the water.
Where go the chemicals when the rain comes? The grass that has received the four step process can overcome the chemicals and indeed produce a very green, weed-free lawn. This practice, a rite of spring at baseball parks, town commons and residential lawns is the results of a battle and war on the weeds. Town workers in Scituate, home owners all over the South Shore and lawn experts are quick to remove the little flag. Ironically, the little yellow flag is easy to spot against the green grass. Too bad the pretty dandelions also make a nice, yellow view against the desired green backdrop.
The dandelions tend to thrive on the field edges at the Farm, and we are faced with the challenge of how to organically deal and co-exist with them. Pepper the bunny enjoys the dandelion greens. The visiting students seek to pluck the flowers for a hand-held collection. Other students seek to share the seed dispersal lesson by blowing the seeds hither and yon.
The farmers see the dandelion weed and many other weeds as one in a long line of tasks. Often on hands and knees, the farmers will hand pull and claw at the weeds that are approaching the newly planted lettuce, radishes and even the perennial asparagus. The asparagus, in the ground since about 1998 has to struggle each year to thrive and force their spears up above the rest of the plants.
The tasty, fresh asparagus will be featured at our Farm to Table dinner on May 14 with chef Maryann Saporito(tickets still available). This annual fund raiser helps us continue to pull weeds and teach adults and kids about growing organic produce.
The fields at Holly Hill at this time of year are green, but not perfectly green, as my sister observed. Perfection is a hard goal, along with a weed free lawn. Perfection is better found in ripe asparagus and fresh cut arugula. And though it takes work to pull the weeds and collect the flowers, we will keep on tilting at windmills and slouching towards Bethlehem, err the fields off Jerusalem Road.
© 2016, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm