These are the things you think of when you’re in the middle of harvesting two flats full of the teeniest cherry tomatoes anyone has ever seen alongside your partner who interrupts your Pulp Fiction nostalgia to describe the garden spider he has run into as “at least three inches across” (you later admire his half-sized but still impressive cousin a few rows over in the big tomatoes). I can’t now recall the name of the cherries. Something like “Party in My Mouth”, but Nancy, who owns The Good Earth farm with her husband Jeff, says that she will never grow them again owing to their ass-pain harvesting. Still, they are delicious. And to the novice farmer who loves tomatoes, nitpicking 9000 of them in the morning light and dew, even with flies and mosquitoes aplenty (which you learn to appreciated because they and the crops and consequently you haven’t been poisoned), is as pleasant and aromatic a detail as any to undertake as a first farm task.
We arrived here yesterday afternoon and took a tour to meet T-Bone, the miniature bull, and Rex, his faithful miniature pony companion, the cats, dogs, turkeys, chickens, bunnies, bees (bumblers and honey), and the three summer interns who share the over 100 year old farmhouse with Jeff and Nancy. We were shortly joined by two additional WWOOFers, a couple of young ladies from Connecticut who are basically taking our trip in reverse and will actually be WWOOFing with Michael at Windrose — the farm we just left — after they are done here.
Last night was a delightful gathering in which 9 people of various ages and backgrounds came together for dinner, drinks and conversation, as well as a bit of a jam session, that lasted too late into the evening for people who had to be up to make a tremendous haul before the farmer’s market stand needed to be in place at 4 this afternoon.
Lance and I arose groggy after a humid and fitful night to find everyone else bustling and prepping for the day with breakfast and coffee going in various places all around the big kitchen. We kicked into gear, got some caffeine and nourishment of our own, and headed out to rendezvous with those mini ‘maters for the first few hours of the day. Once we had those done, we picked a couple of bushels of both pablano and Anaheim peppers (more olfactory overload of the finest variety) and then went after the heirloom and roma tomatoes with boxes that hold about 25 pounds of them apiece. In the end, I have no idea how many pounds, bushels, flats, etc of produce consisting of melons, potatoes, corn, cukes, greens, tomatoes, squashes, cabbages, herbs, etc plus boxes for CSA shares went out the door today. What I do know is that it took 9 people working pretty much constantly from about 7:30-2:30 to get it all harvested, washed, sorted and loaded, and that the owners and the interns are still selling it (hopefully) as I type this while the WWOOFers have had a chance to relax a bit and clean up. We have a few small chores to do and are going to make dinner for everyone here soon, but feel even after working a good, long day like we are nowhere near as kick ass as any one of the people who do this full time.
Like teachers, these are some of the most underpaid and under appreciated folks on the planet. I’m glad and humbled to know them and thrilled to be cooking a meal that came entirely from the ground right outside.