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The Satisfactions of Farming

by Becky Seward, Ecosystem Farm Manager

(Written to the CSA community and published in this week’s edition of Field Notes.)

I write to you on the tail end of a couple of beautiful days of rain and another gorgeous day of sun and warmth to wick some of that extra moisture off of the field. It has been a truly blessed season here at the Ecosystem Farm; I cannot believe the good fortune we’ve had! I have really enjoyed seeing you all around the community, and have been feeling so welcomed by many of you. Thanks for your support!

The weather has afforded us some nice days to work in the greenhouses and do some substantial weed-pulling. Yesterday I came home filthy from a day of field work, cleaning out a dusty shed, and cutting bamboo. It was a wholly irritating, itchy, yet satisfying discomfort that is so fulfilling to ash off at the end of the day. I was reminded that this is a life that I love, with its balancing act and its never-ending to-do list, for its visceral tasks. The sense of completion that I get from weeding an entire bed comes not only from the fluffy beds that are left behind, but the moist knees and the dirty hands. My father (who is volunteering Tuesdays now!) was reminding me this week that I was always in the dirt as a little girl, with worm collections and bugs in jars left about the house. I have fond memories of dressing up in frilly dresses and tights, only to climb the nearest tree or plop in the nearest mud puddle. It was in these spaces that I felt myself and I suppose, at the time, I was garnering an appreciation for nature that has only grown deeper and more sophisticated as I have grown older.

It has always seemed to me that farming is one of the most people-oriented and timely ways to be a nature lover. It is a profession, serving a human need, that has immense ramifications in both the human and natural world. I see more birds from the tractor than I would from a walk in the woods. After the big rain this week, on Monday we saw two snapping turtles, a few big black snakes, several wild turkeys, as well as the regular sightings of birds of prey and insects. It is a naturalist’s paradise of songbirds alone at the Ecosystem Farm and we have enjoyed sharing our observations with each other as we work each day.

Farming allows me my personal connection with nature every day, as well as my visceral need to be caked in mud, and also a human connection in the most profound way. We not only develop an intimacy with the farm as an ecosystem and the food that we tend with care for you, but that food in turn goes to you for your health and your connection to the land. I hope you feel this care in your box this week!

An excerpt from The Satisfactions of the Mad Farmer by Wendell Berry:

Growing weather; enough rain; the cow’s udder tight with milk; the peach tree bent with its yield; honey golden in the white comb;

the pastures deep in clover and grass, enough, and more than enough;

the ground, new worked, moist and yielding underfoot, the feet comfortable in it as roots;

the early garden: potatoes, onions, peas, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrot, radishes, marking their straight rows with green, before the trees are leafed;

raspberries ripe and heavy amid their foliage, currants shining red in clusters amid their foliage, strawberries red ripe with the white flowers still on the vines—picked with the dew on them, before breakfast;

…What I know of spirit is astir in the world. The god I have always expected to appear at the wood’s edge, beckoning, I have always expected to be a great relisher of this world, its good grown immortal in his mind.

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