Sunday, March 18, 2012

My New Friend, the Farmer

Damn I'm tired.  Yesterday was a busy day.  First up, the Local Farmer's Open House at the Urban Ecology Center.

Here's something you might not know about me.  I'm a bit claustrophobic.  Not so much small spaces - I'd do fine spelunking, I think - but I get very claustrophobic in crowded spaces.  If there's a crowd all around me, and I can't move briskly, and I can't figure out where to go to get out of the crowd, and people are pushing me... I start to freak out.  What if there was a fire?  Where would I go?

So, for the record:

1. I like to eat weeds.
2. Spelunking sounds like fun.
3. I have no problem making fun of myself in front of large groups of people (not really related to this blog, but it's true.)
4. Crowds terrify me.

The Urban Ecology Center was packed on Saturday.  Packed.  Crazy packed.  I seriously almost left.  I'm excited that so many people care about supporting their local farmers, and I hope that it was a good event for the Urban Ecology Center because they are a great organization doing excellent things.  But it was crazy crowded and if I didn't have the option of going, sitting down,  and learning about why I should get a CSA and about the pesticides used at big farms, I might have just left.  It's always a bit of a catch 22.  Like the Winter Farmer's Market.  I want people to go, because I want the farmers to be supported, and the more people go the more farmers will show up... but at the same time, I want to be selfish and keep the whole thing for me.

But, it seemed most people came in the morning, and by 1:00 it had calmed down and I had the opportunity to really circle around and talk to the farmers.

While I wanted to keep an open mind, I did go to the Open House pretty certain which farm I'd be purchasing my CSA from.  Over the past year, I have built up a pretty good relationship with JenEhr Farms, a farm just outside of Madison, and have gotten to know Farmer Paul through the West Allis and Winter Farmer's Market.  They've got the best chickens I've found since I lost Farmer Jones, as well as amazing winter radishes, spinach, sweet potatoes, fennel, and really just about everything else.  Their produce is always amazing, and I appreciate that Farmer Paul recognizes me week to week and remembers what I like.  Also, they have chicken feet, which I like to use for stock, and which can be hard to find.

So, I expected to work with them this Summer.  I was basically all set in that path.

And then I met Farmer Jess from the Rhine Center Vegetable Club.  I almost didn't even stop at their booth, because they don't have CSA pick up by my house.  They do, however, have it by my work, so I figured it was worth it to give a quick stop.

The first thing that happened, before any talk of produce or whatever could occur, was that Jess commented on my shirt - a Star Trek joke.  Right there, we're friends.  I was surprised, because the table was run by Jess and her sister, who were really just kids.  Okay, probably my age, and I'm almost 30, but still...

We went to talk, and Jess has been working her farm for 3 years.  She met her farming partner, Sam, when they were both working on someone else's farm and going to school.  "Why," they asked themselves, "are we working someone else's farm?"  So, they rented some land and started their own farm.

Something about this story really resonated with me.  And, really, more than that, the person behind the story.  While we didn't have a long time to talk, this was someone that  I could tell I have a shared passion with.  Yes, I could go with the established farm I know, or I could be a part of someone's dream to raise their own farm sustainably.

So I went with the Rhine Center Vegetable Club.  I will be going out this summer to help them work on their farm, and will bring back pictures to share with you.  I am excited, and feel like I am starting on a new adventure.

So that was my day until 3.  I then came home, turned over my compost pile (without stretching first, because I'm a dummy), loaded three 10 gallon bins and one 15 gallon bin up with dirt for container gardening, broke down some branches, had a fire, Vesped to the Outpost for dinner, and then collapsed in a ball on my couch.  And now I am sore.

But it's a good sore.  And my compost pile is turned over, which is good because it was all the way full.  I now have room to add more compost, which means I can clean out my flower gardens... They seem to think it's spring and the daffodils are blooming.  I'm not sure whether or not to uncover them.  I suspect it may snow one more time...

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