Friday, September 8, 2006

Well, it's Fall and farmers are tired. In conversations with several of our organic farmer friends, the talk is of sore backs or scaling back. Three out of the five Frog Holler family members are nursing sore spots, although one can possibly attribute his to a nine-inning, full-tilt game of whiffleball!

No doubt about it, organic farming is physically challenging and the reaction to the work in body, mind and spirit, builds up over the season. Now we can feel those big melon patches that needed to be hoed, and then hoed again, and then hoed again before we ever tasted a melon. Or we can look back on the tomato patch that we planted with high hopes and realize that, although we waded through those tangled rows of vines and weeds over and over, we didn't really get a crop. Or how about all of the broccoli those cutworms ate in the early spring? Or the mysterious disease that took out all the cucumber vines in Southeast Michigan, from what I hear and have observed in our field.

There is a steep learning curve with gardening, and especially organic gardening, when we not only read the back of seed packets, but try to read the signs in the soil, the clouds and the crops. And school doesn't convene again until next Spring; it's not like we can fix our mistakes tonight and hand the paper back in tomorrow morning.

So why is it that despite the talk of achy this and sore that - of wasted time here and lost crops there - we are also talking about Next Year?! Why are we scheming a better way to support tomatoes - a more efficient approach to melon growing - maybe planting a few fruit trees? Can't we learn?

Well, hopefully we will learn. We'll learn better ways to produce crops that maintain the health of the soil and the farmer. We'll learn how to incorporate more efficient new technology without negating the traditional wisdom. And hopefully we'll learn ever more deeply why we greet each Spring with hope and fresh energy for the season ahead.


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