My Spring was a Rube Goldberg Machine…

Rube Goldberg  adj \ˈrōōb-ˈgōl(d)-ˌbərg\ : a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation – Webster’s New World Dictionary

The simple task in this case is: grow food. Seemingly simple. You know, I am amazed everyday that I find myself scooting along in the dirt weeding or transplanting crops, that a refrain always pops up in my mind: this is how food is grown. You must scoot through the dirt to get the goods. Well, scooting through the dirt and a little more is actually what it takes…

One note on the tardiness of my posting, and then I’ll leave that train of thought behind: when I realized that it’s been since January since I’ve written I couldn’t believe it, because all along the way I have been writing amazing blog posts in my mind… um… didn’t they say we’d have mind-meld devices by now? Honestly, this is the first moment, here the week before July 4th (incidentally, Rube Goldberg’s birthday) that I have had a moment to reflect on the Spring and all that we’ve accomplished so far. And what a Spring it’s been!

OK, back to the Rube Goldberg reference. You know what I’m talking about – those machines like in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. There’s no shame in appreciating Pee Wee’s Breakfast Machine, or for the classier among us, Scott Weaver’s 10,000 toothpick structure  But, the farm isn’t quite like that, maybe more like a combination of a Rube Goldberg machine and a perpetual motion machine… we’ll call it the farm machine.

Our farm machine began this year on March 15th when we put the first artichoke seed in the tray of germinating mix that set off our season and our collective energies into a whirlwind of seeding, transplanting, harvesting, washing, packing, selling, seeding, transplanting, harvesting, washing, packing, selling, seeding, transplanting, harvesting, washing, packing, selling, seeding, transplanting, harvesting, washing, packing, selling, seeding, transplanting, harvesting, washing, packing, selling, seeding, transplanting, harvesting, washing, packing, selling… Instead of a marble set at the top of a slide to engage a series of events – we put seeds in the ground and get the same effect, which leads to the age-old scenario of cause and effect: seeds in the ground = plants that need care = weeds that need management = tomatoes that need pruning & clipping = chefs that need updates = workers that need instructions = long days harvesting = freshly harvested produce needs to get cold, and fast! = food club members that need recipes = driving around delivering = hot days that need A/C on deliveries = workers that need creemees = dogs that need water = baby squash that need harvesting every 36 hours = happy customers with baby veggies = farmers wanting happy customers = random impromptu tour of  farm enthusiasts = clean out van for market day – do we have enough bags? = organize walk-in cooler – what are we taking to market? = early market day starting with squash blossom harvest = long market day with veggies needing a cooling mist = happy veggies & happy customers & happy farmers = more seeds in the ground…

Don’t get me wrong – it is an absolute pleasure and a pace that I thrive on these short 6 months of intense coaxing of our rich soil to give us a little more.  We have an incredible labor force this year that makes our farm machine work efficiently, those creemees are a welcome respite on hot days and thank you for all that our dream-team gives us each and every day. The biodiversity on our farm is exactly as I always imagined my farm would be when I originally conceived of our farm: bugs and birds and dogs and people and worms and predators and prey. Our Farmers’ Market Customers, Seniors and Food Club Members are grateful, appreciative, and generous individuals we think about each and every day that we labor on the farm for them.  Even though every day ends with a mad dash to make a nutritious, filling meal,  print invoices, payroll, make sure there’s enough change in the cash box, make sure the market linens are washed, and that we have enough supplies/sunscreen/water/snacks to do it all over again, we go to sleep at night knowing that we have fed a lot of people food that has been grown with intention, handled with care, and delivered with love. My Rube Goldberg machine, at least, is for the powers of good, nutrition, positive growth…and that’s good enough for me.

Because I can’t resist – here’s a link to ten food-based Rube Goldberg machines. And, also for the GenXers amongst us, the X-Files episode that was about Rube Goldberg machines – the Goldberg Variation: Season 7, Episode 6.  Non-sequitur enough for you?

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