Friday, October 14, 2011

Old Friends Week

This week began with a slew of disappointments - the Windham gentleman's farm sold, another property that I was REALLY interested in leasing is being leased by a friend, and I wasn't offered positions at a few jobs that I had applied for.  I know these are minor set-backs in my "big picture" plan, but it's still discouraging.  I felt deflated.  I know it just means that these  opportunities aren't meant to be, and I still trust that the right job/farm/whatever is out there, but it doesn't make it any easier to essentially have to start over at square one.

And so I headed off to visit friends this week, another one of the big reasons that I left my job.  I visited K and the chickens (and loved every minute, especially with my little Pokey), met a close college friend that I haven't seen in months for tea, and even visited a few farm friends.

Wednesday I drove to Amherst to visit my good friend H at Old Friends Farm, where she works full-time making beautiful cut flower arrangements, bagging hundreds of pounds of mixed salad greens, and participating in all of the general tasks of running a market-based farm.  We enjoyed lunch together overlooking an amazing vista of burnt orange fall foliage and then spent the afternoon prepping salad greens, harvesting potatoes, and touring the farm.

One of my favorite parts was seeing their greenhouse full of ginger, a crop I know very little about.  In March they plant root stock (ordered from Hawaii) in their unheated hoop house, about 30' by 300'.  The roots are harvested this time of year and used for a myriad of dishes, from stir-fry to ginger molasses cookies.  You can even use the greens of the plant for steaming fish and other vegetables.  I've never been a fan of ginger (feeling that the fibrous texture and strong flavor can be overpowering), but fresh ginger is an entirely different vegetable.  For lunch I tried it pickled, on top of salad, and for dinner we sauteed the ginger with Hen of the Woods mushroom, leeks, garlic, and pasta: an incredible feast.  It was so nice to visit with H and see Amherst in the autumn; I forgot how much I loved it there.

Thursday I visited my farmer friend N at Hunt's Brook Farm in Quaker Hill. N and her husband lease the land there for a vegetable CSA, and it's a truly beautiful spot.  Over a cup of her incredible nettles tea, we chatted about being new farmers in CT and why we love it so much, and what makes it challenging.  There may be an opportunity to work in conjunction her farm next spring, growing produce for a low-income CSA, which is an exciting opportunity.

And today I spent the morning hanging out with my mom and the afternoon delving back into the world of exploring properties and farming opportunities.  It's exhausting and so easy to get wrapped up in the world wide web.  But visiting other farms and spending time with friends reminds me that I'm part of a larger movement.  I want to farm because it is important work.  I know deep down that I have what it takes, no matter the minor setbacks, and that I am supported by the farming community.

I am a greenhorn.

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