Week No. 14 – 2013 Season

Small farming truly is beautiful when you’re on the outside, looking in

Working in the open air. Moving about the soil. Living close to Nature. I feel so much apart of the landscape sometimes that it dwarfs the significance of what I do as a human being growing food. Just two thirds of the way through our regular harvest season, it seems ages ago that we ran planters and transplanters over long beds and sections of fields. At the time, so much seemed to go into our actions – ground preparation, soil fertility, seeding, equipment maintenance. A lot we did seemed so important. Yet miraculous growth of tiny seeds, roots, stems, leaves, vegetables, each according to its own schedule – 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, 80 days, 110 days – they all unfold in a splendor that makes us realize we merely serve it. Everywhere I go about farm and rented land reminds me that I am a tiny fraction of a giant whole. After a month of picking corn, an entire field of it seems to brown and wither almost overnight. After waiting for greens we planted months ago, an entire bed – 60 lbs. of one variety – is cut back to the earth in a matter of hours. All that effort and time – for a single portion, of a single meal on 190 tables. I move a commercial sprinkler into place and lift the handle of a hydrant. A cold front collides two days later with a hot August air mass triggering a storm and rain. And fourteen 50-foot rows of Provider bush beans yield another 100 lbs. into an amazing 10th week. My puny mind tries to comprehend how these plants keep doing that. Was it really just from the watering? There has to be so much more to it than that. Images chasten me of several times in past years when I expended even more effort for months growing beans, yet struggled to get even one decent harvest out of them. How much did I have to do with this year’s bumper crop of green beans, really? You may think me crazy. Yet I don’t think grappling with such “harsh” realities about my small significance need be depressing. I’ve simply found my place in the universe, my small purpose in the grand scheme of things. I think of the blank faces and smug expressions of the chieftains of finance, banking, insurance; the controllers of public policy and even government. I think of them exposed and indicted so starkly in the documentary “Inside Job” narrated by Matt Damon. Dela and I finally got to watch the film this week. It made us feel robbed. It reminded us that that world is out of the common person’s control. That was depressing. On our 50-year-old tractor this week, however, in a field of falling hay, I actually began to feel sorry for the handful of people controlling we masses. Even as they continue to prosper following the 2009 economic collapse that they precipitated, I find refuge in the spare, simple place I have as a “tiller and keeper” of fertile soil. The “inside job” refers to criminal, unethical, exploitative lifestyles and work. My “outside job” keeps my eyes open to the very real needs of the world around me. You share in this clear conscience with every bite you take, every morsel from this ground you prepare, every dime you spend on Dela and Tony, or farming people like us. I am so grateful to you.  Get to know us better THIS weekend: Pairing of wine with our food, this Friday, Sept 6, at Barriques wine and coffee store, 1891 Cayuga St. Participants can come any time during the hours of 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. There is a fee, but you can become a Barriques member and enjoy discounts. The store is one block off University Avenue across from the Middleton post office at the western beltline exit a*Learn to Can and Preserve vegetables with Dela in our commercial style kitchen, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., this Saturday, Sept. 7; *also, help our farm protect plants and prepare for frost, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, Sept. 7 and Sept. 14; *Soil Sisters Farm Tour, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 8* free and open to the public, details at www.soilsisterswi.org

This Week’s Vegetables include:

  • Arugula
  • Cucumbers (last time, no, really)
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers (some hot, some not
  • Basil)
  • Okra
  • Green beans
  • Chard
  • Ice Box Melon (they fit in the frige!)
  • Eggplant OR summer squash
  • Garden Extra – every delivery site gets something different – corn, OR broccoli, OR cabbage, OR Kohlrabi

Cooking Tips for the Week

Again this year, you can go to the Scotch Hill Facebook page, or link to it from our website www.scotchhillfarm.com and find regular blog entries from one of our Madison subscribers, Karen Ebert. Karen is again describing each week all the marvelous things she’s been doing with our fresh vegetables. Dela says you should check out her bean dip recipe. Karen has managed to keep up with a running account of what she does with her subscription vegetables from Scotch Hill. The account includes as many as three recipes, and Karen continues to engage her children in our food and farm, too. She and her husband brought the children to our farm to volunteer this year. It was great fun. Other subscribers have been posting and sharing their food experiences with our farm, too. Dela and I are so grateful.