© 2014, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm
Winter Warmth, Pause for Perspective
This brief spell of warmth really makes one ready for seeds, soil and growing healthy crops. But wait, it will be cold again. The ground is still frozen in many parts. And even if I was tempted to toss in some hardy seeds in a protected, greenhouse raised bed, the seedlings would have a hard time continuing for the remainder of the Winter. In addition, there is still also much to consider. Farming demands a great deal of repetition: weeding, seed sowing, weeding, harvesting, wood splitting, cultivating, weeding again and making compost. Teaching as well, asks for repetitive patience and careful explanations in hopes of conveying concepts, literary intentions and mathematical facts. Memorizing poetry is a terrific study in repetition. In all this repetition, where is the time to pause and reflect, evaluate inputs and examine crop plans and seed sources? While teaching, it is beneficial to also pause and check in with the students. Is there a way to introduce new concepts, practices or ideas into a routine that demands such redundant plans? Yes, make it new all over again for the first time.
Over the weekend, I attended the 27th annual NOFA conference in Worcester, along with perhaps 600 other organically inclined farmers, gardeners and sustainably minded folks. An organic farmer, who practices the art of placing seeds and transplants in often wet, rocky soil, while all the while seemingly tilting at windmills, needs to find and balance the tried and true practices of organically growing, while making sure to weigh new decisions about tools, machinery, seeds and materials. An instructor likely needs to try different ways of teaching if the repeated methods are not working.
Since organically turned compost is essential for growing and I have been making compost for ten years, I am newly committed to making sure I know and record all the inputs to make that rich, beautiful humus and organic matter. In the next few weeks when I order seeds, I will think and research more thoroughly from where these seeds come. Not only will they all be organic, but I will speak directly to the seed saver to assure she and he are sourcing and growing non GMO, reliable seeds. Continuing to improve a practice that has been perfected for years. There is still room for improvement, still opportunity to look at all the current plans and be willing to reassess and grow with more informed understanding. A new year, a fresh season to hope eternal, come Spring. And the effort to incorporate new possibilities will help any conscientious, learning, growing, evolving gardener, farmer or teacher to stand up a bit more straighter towards the windmills.