Water water everywhere and nary a drop to drink, or so say the plants at the Farm in this late summer of 2014. Though there are places in which to coax water from the often low-level well, there has certainly been no soaking or lasting, impenetrable rain to feed the broccoli or give a drink to the chard. The farmer at Holly Hill has to prioritize and painstakingly parcel out the water from the 300 gallon tank that sits on the old cart which is pulled by the hard-working 1960s vintage Massey Ferguson tractor to bring to the most needed crops.
What a tough tale to tell these plants one has known and raised since infant seed, that they need to hold on a bit longer. The Alabama Shakes croon that “You’ve go to hooooooold on.” The farmers plead for roots to reach deep into the hopefully well-composted soil, down below the dusty surfaces in beds at both high and low elevations of growing fields. The vitally-in-need root crops, upon which so much water depends – beets, turnips, radish, parsnips and the delightful carrots – they must persevere. The long growing tomato, having started its growth in a warm hoop house back in April has to wait some more. And there is little supply and much demand for starting lettuce and arugula by seed in these dry-drought climate conditions. Like doctors in triage and those fighting far more serious, deadly diseases, the farmer must water often by hand and occasionally pump into drip tape the plants who suffer most.
And yet the customers email, plea and complain as to the whereabouts of the greens. It’s all the farmer can do to explain they’re trying, growing and hoping. The average patron today, who has thoughtfully chosen to shop at the Farm Stand and Farmers Market and clearly has an organic inkling, seems shocked. Shocked to find no greens from the dry fields. And can we blame them? Heads of lettuce are piled high upon each other, all the while receiving steady droplets of mist from hidden sprinklers at most grocery stores.
Determined, ignorant folks (needing to prove something) keep mowing their dry lawns, expecting growth. Golfers tee off on plush greens of a different ilk. Large real estate developers wish to inject 90 houses without a thought of our depleted water resources. I challenge anyone to drive by a muddy reservoir and not ask why?
We even dumped ice-cold buckets of water on our heads in honor of a dear friend, who used to help tend these fields. Could we have saved that water for the vegetables, flowers and herbs?
Help is on the way. Cooler temperatures will prevail, causing less stress on these plants. Twenty-four Cohasset High School seniors came at first block to schlep watering cans and buckets of well and town water to the young broccoli plants. They did on so on game day, when many of the same student athletes were to open their fall sport season and subsequently need water themselves.
Rain barrels are set and ready to receive free roof and gutter water for when it does rain. And Levente’s new Eagle Scout project compost bins are already the beneficiaries of plant scraps, coffee grounds and manure, so as to make compost and better endow the fields and help plants grow. Compost will help hold that water when the hard rain is gonna fall.
Lots of work this farming, which makes one a bit parched and go in search of that drop to drink.
© 2014, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm