On this happiest of days, February 22nd, sunny and bright (and 3ºF outside), I am farming! Not in the soil, but in my mind. This time of year, our days are filled with tasks that no customers ever witness, but definitely benefit from. A sample list of what we’re doing these days: seed ordering, seed organizing, meeting with our chefs and accounts, researching pest management strategies, plotting our greenhouse seeding schedules, plotting our field seeding/planting schedules, researching how to grow better microgreens (it’s gonna be incredible!), reading agricultural reports, reading farming books for research and pleasure (thank you Amy Goldman!), processing Food Club payments (there’s still plenty of room, folks!), and literally dreaming at night about the first day at the farm when I get to take off my shoes and sink my toes into the newly tilled, fluffy, and deliciously cool soil (I seriously did dream that last night!). All this activity is exhilarating and exhausting…but in the best of ways. It feels so good to use my brain like this again!
All of our seeds for the 2011 growing season have arrived – save a few backordered varieties – and so the cataloging begins; sorting seeds by crop – all the beans, beets, lettuce (heads), lettuce (salad mix), peppers, tomatoes, winter squashes, etc. get grouped together. Then everything gets further subdivided into what gets planted in the greenhouse and what gets directly seeded into our fields. The greenhouse seeds are the most exciting right now, as they are the most imminent. In a few short weeks – three by my calculation – we will be firing up the Intervale’s collective greenhouses and starting the season in earnest!
Earlier in the season than ever before, I find myself marveling in the seed. I am always impressed by just how much energy is embodied in each one – it’s as though I just filled my house with millions of tiny batteries! Seeds have so much inherent energy that they don’t need the nutrient package soil provides until it has its first true leaves and starts using the sun! That means that once a seed is nestled in moist soil, all the energy that it needs to swell with water, soften the seed casing, stimulate the embryo to send down the radicle (tiny root), take hold in the soil firmly enough so that the stem can push the seed casing to the surface of the soil, burst forth while seeking out the warmth of the sun, throw out the cotyledons (first leaves), and THEN use sunlight to generate their first true leaves. THAT process, THAT energy expenditure that takes between 3 days and 3 weeks depending on what type of plant it is; THAT energy is already inside the seed – waiting for those cues of water and soil to start the growing process. It fills me with wonder every single year, and reminds me why I am still smiling about farming nine years into the adventure: if you take time to notice, life will never cease to amaze. I am glad that I take time to notice – it always makes me smile.