Wholly Inefficient Tasks

summer solstice sunset
summer solstice sunset

In the evening, when the day’s field work is done and dinner has been eaten, I do wholly inefficient tasks.

You know what I mean?

Tending to those things on the outskirts of the production garden, the things that get perpetually forgotten because they were forgotten once and the weeds overcame them and it became easy to walk by without stopping to scribble it on the to-do list.

For me, it’s the seaberries.

I went to them, finally, and hand-pulled the tall grass that was engulfing their 100-foot bed. Fistful by fistful, I loosened and yanked.

Two years ago we hastily planted the trees at the base of our field.  They’d been yelling at us all summer, the way root-bound plants yell, with their yellowing leaves and stunted growth.  Each time I’d walk by them I’d whisper: We will plant you.  We just have to do everything else first.

And then I’d offer them some water and they’d drink it the way a toddler who’s been bribed with dessert eats dinner: impatiently.


Seaberries, also known as Sea-buckthorns, are fruit-bearing trees that grow from 6-12′.  They fix nitrogen in the soil, can act as a windbreak, have few pest or disease issues, AND produce bright orange berries high in Vitamin C.

We were very excited about them when we bought the saplings from a friend’s nursery.  And then we were very embarrassed when he asked how they were doing, and we had to admit they weren’t yet in the ground.

But that was two years ago.  I’ve given up my embarrassment and embraced the fact that sometimes I have to let things go.

And sometimes, the things we let go of come back.

Last night, as I bent and pulled, I cleared the seaberries from the shroud of grass.  At the end, I stood up and looked down the row, seeing them again for the first time in a year.

There’s something satisfying about tending to the inefficiencies on the farm.  They’re a guilty pleasure along the edges keeping a bit of wildness in our days.  (Don’t tell Edge I said this…he doesn’t love tending to the inefficiencies.  Mostly I agree with him.  Mostly).

There’s no practical sense to keep the seaberries where they are, tangled with grass roots, unkempt.

There’s no sense at all, really—except to enter the weeds, bare hands, muscle, swatting at black flies; to remember what it takes to make space; to remember I can do it, if I’m willing to.



Vermont has a handful of seaberry experts; you can learn more about seaberries here: 

Vermont Seaberry Company

Whole Systems Design 


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