This week we are grateful for the amazing network of people who make running the farm possible. To illustrate my point I want to describe a conversation I had the first time one of our new workershares came to the farm this year. For those of you who don't know, a workershare is someone who trades 3 to 3.5 hours each week for a box of produce each week. One of the first things she said was "This is not what I imagined at all--I thought your were like a big corporation--you're just two people and a garage." I laughed and corrected her by adding, "and two mini-vans and a lot of volunteers." Some of our volunteers get food for their work, but some of them just offer their time for nothing in exchange. We have people who help in the fields, manage dropsites, deliver shares, build infrastructure, design marketing materials, and promote us to friends and family. As a small farm in a world that is used to the industrialized food system that relies heavily on mechanization, chemicals and the exploitation of laborers to keep food price artificially low, it feels like a really counter-cultural thing to rely so heavily on volunteers to accomplish our work at Three Sisters. The fact that someone would mistake us for a corporation is at once an insult and a compliment. On the one hand, a compliment--it seems like we have our act together! On the other hand -- we are not a group of high paid executives looking to maximize our profit margins. We are instead a community of people working together with a lot of goodwill trying to make the world a better place through stewardship, beauty, joy, connection with others and really good food.
This past week we were grateful to have off from CSA deliveries. The 4th always marks a turning point in the year. It officially feels like spring is over. The part of the garden that provided all those greens for your first share looked tired and worn out with just some weeds left after the harvesting. All the summer crops that have been growing since May are looking great and the greenhouse is full of seedlings for the fall. Even though we were just 5 deliveries in, we have been 'working our butts off' both literally and figuratively since March. Many crops take a months of management before you see them in your shares. Having the week off from deliveries allowed us to catch up on some of the weeding that was getting away from us. Our soil is so fertile from all the compost we have applied over the years that weeds grow 2-3 feet in the course of 2 weeks...so its a lot to keep up with.
We were challenged this week by the epic heat and humidity. The dirt, plants and sun can easily irritate your skin and make you break out and itch, so we usually have to stay fully clothed even when it is really hot. This is the gritty side of organic farming that bucolic imaginations often overlook. When it gets above 90 we usually have to stop working mid-day and work later into the evening hours to make up for it. It makes for long days, but its a better alternative than heat exhaustion. The hoophouse becomes almost unbearable when it gets this hot since it is always 10-15 degrees hotter in there. We're going to try putting some shade cloth over the tomato side this week because the cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen and we will be picking them by the middle of next week. Like all things, the heat will pass and by fall we'll find some other aspect of the weather to complain about!..its part of being a human in Wisconsin. In between the heat, humidity and deer flies we did make it to the beach and to see some fireworks with family.
The week off means that we have an abundance of food coming your way this week...
I went out after dark with a head lamp to turn off the well that irrigates our crops and was surprised to find this salamander.
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.