The First Lesson of Farming

 organic silver slicer cucumber seedlings

Snow flurries and frost visited us on Monday and Tuesday.  

Of course, we’d just planted out beds of kale, lettuce, spinach, and chard days earlier during a rare reprieve from the springtime rain.  It’s disheartening, snow in May, no matter if it doesn’t stick.

It’s disheartening until we walk into the greenhouse.  Until we check the long-term forecast again and find reassurance: summer will come.

organic pea shoots

And we remember the first lesson of farming: flexibility.

We remember that without the ability to bend, to work with the weather, to reassess and readjust, we aren’t really able to grow.  We amend the soil, we plant the seed, we water, and then we step back.  The assumption of control is held only by amateurs, only by those who’ve not yet ventured into the garden or farm fields.

Because in the garden, there’s no control.  There are best guesses and calculated assumptions and practiced moves, but there’s no real control.  To enter into a relationship with soil and plants and insects and microorganisms is to acknowledge that we’re all in it together—that as gardeners and farmers our true role is as a teammate rather than an orchestrator (though coaching seedlings along by singing in the greenhouse surely helps).

We help the best we can: we take out the row-cover to keep the seedlings warm and blanket the fields before the flurries.  We heat the greenhouse through cold spring nights.  We wake up and stretch each morning, not just to ease our sore muscles but to remind ourselves, too, that everything works better when flexible.

And then we wake up one morning to sun over the treetops.  To a shift in the air.  To one season yielding into the next.


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