Of Farms and Fables combines the efforts of professional and non-professional artists by engaging artists in farm work and farm workers in storytelling and acting. The result will be an original performance in October of 2011 which will engage performers and audience in dialogue about local agriculture, farming, and the future of small family farms in Maine.

Monday, July 26, 2010

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello (Keith)

This post has me back on Broadturn for two more weeks. It has been over a month since I was last here. These would be my last official work exchange days on Broadturn.

My initial thoughts at 5am while pulling in were thoughts of awe. This did not look like the same farm. Everything had grown so much in a month. Flowers that were just seedlings were 3 feet tall and full of blooms. The fields were filled with color, greenery and life. An awful lot happened in a month here.

I spent the mornings harvesting lettuces, collards, beans, basil, kohlrabi, arugula, cabbages, broccoli, garlic and pac choy, just to name a few. Broadturn is a cornucopia of diversity every week when it comes to harvesting. It's exciting. I can imagine for a CSA member, driving up to the farm is an experience filled with joy, wonder, amazement. "What are we going to pick up this week? What are we going to do with it when we get it home?" The possibilities are endless.

I noticed so many different things on my second visit to Broadturn. There were a bunch of new rows of plantings where old vegetables had been harvested and tilled under. I asked John about this. He said that he works off a spreadsheet, starting with a projected CSA pick up date for a particular vegetable then working backwards to determine when it should be planted so that it matures on or around the right time. Many things get second or even third plantings.

This opened up an awareness to me. The Maine growing season is longer than I thought. I was working under the assumption, 'plant the garden, maintain the garden, harvest the garden'. I had not figured the 're-plant the garden' into the equation. It really makes perfect sense, and I feel a little silly for not picking up on this before. If something matures to harvest size in 30-60 days from planting, that really does give time for second or even third harvests of certain things.

So, applying this new found knowledge to my own life, I did a little research and figured out I could fill a few holes left in my garden from harvested peas, lettuce, onions and potatoes with kale, collards, spinach, peas, and salad greens. It was really exciting to plant new things. It gives me something to look forward to over the the next few months.

People get sad when things are out of season. When the strawberries and peas are gone, people notice. I'm the same way. Harvest is wonderful, but knowing you don't have that particular fresh fruit or veggie to look forward to until next season is a bummer. With successive plantings, the season is extended as long as it possibly can, thus keeping the bummer at bay until frost sets in. So, while we may have to say goodbye to the Spring peas, we can say hello to Fall spinach.

Now that we are past the half way mark in our work exchange, I am thinking of the future. It was hard to drive away from Broadturn on my last exchange day there. I feel connected tot he place, to the people, to the crops. I know I'll go back and visit, just to see how things are. The artistic team had a retreat last weekend. We spoke about what we have accomplished so far, the challenges we have overcome and the challenges we will face as we mount the next phase of the project. But we are up to it. Where I may have to say goodbye to some farms, people, plants and animals. . . I am psyched to say hello to a wonderful, creative and exciting future of theater.