This is the hardest time of the year for me as a farmer. We are primarily vegetable farmers but also grow some fruit and hay. Vegetables are incredibly slow growing in the spring, and then all of the sudden – BAM! A little heat and little water with increasing day length equals growth. This time of year, everything is just getting started.
As an organic farmer, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to get my soil as alive and healthy as possible. It is pretty simple for me. Take care of your soil, and it will take care of the plants. It is similar to: “you are what you eat.” If we as people choose to eat good food, our bodies will do the rest. Of course, just like the soil, our bodies have an incredible ability to absorb lots of toxicity and still function, but not thrive.
As a farmer, I know when a plant is starting to show signs of stress. It comes from knowing your crops. It is almost as if you are listening to what the plant is telling you. It is not mysterious. Good parents, doctors, counselors, farmers, you name it, are all good listeners. Paying attention to what the crop is telling you is what a farmer has to discern. Does it look piqued, why is it not growing, does it seem dry? And even if I have properly prepared the field, fertilized, planted and watered in the right time of year, some plants just aren’t feeling their best. But when I have done the right things at the right time, almost always, most of the crops do great.
I consider myself a good listener, maybe I have always been or maybe raising 9 children (5 married so far) has further tuned my sense of hearing. Really, farming and parenting have taught me that you do your best. You try to prepare your fields and children for the next season, and then a lot of other factors, most out of your control, come into play. And yes, often the next seasons will keep you on your knees because so much is out of your hands.
Ironically, it is that part where we have influence, where we can lay the foundation is, also, critical. It is where diligence pays dividends. Equally important is recognizing that the process is bigger than any one person. Understanding what you control, and what is out of your control, is also freeing.
I do believe that in farming, parenting, or eating, little decisions in the right direction and over long periods of time, lead to healthier crops, healthier children, and a healthier us. Our crops, our children, and our bodies will use the foundations we have laid to finish their race. And amazingly, as if it is a miracle, crops do get harvested, and people are healthier when they eat better food, and children can even navigate Seattle traffic when they are 16!
Thanks for eating good food!