The ‘in between’ Moments
It hit me as I walked into our tiny greenhouse today like a sucker punch - I’ve still got a lot to learn. Sad, wispy seedlings greeted me, with the enthusiasm of someone attending their third meeting of the workday. As I once again watered the parched soil inside their plug trays, I kicked myself for falling behind in the season - again. It’s our second true year growing for market, but we’ve been growing for years casually. Shouldn’t I have the hang of this by now?
I’ve read books, watched videos, attended conferences, taken courses, experimented with techniques learned through social media and yet, I still feel pretty brand new at all of this, more often than I’d like to admit.
This year, our farm garden expanded in size quite a bit. We’ve incorporated silage tarps to help manage the weed load in early spring, using what’s called the stale seedbed method. We’ve expanded our irrigation system from one zone, to four. We built a small greenhouse from an old car shelter. We’ve started using landscape fabric on garden beds to reduce the onerous weeding we’ll face once things really start to grow. We introduced some century-old technology to manage the walkways and cultivation of the soil, and joined our local farmer’s market every Saturday for the season. We’re also building a brand new farmstand. It’s no wonder things feel overwhelming sometimes - each of these things brings along a learning curve that we need to navigate, while balancing all of that other stuff, you know - life.
We work hard. We both work full-time off-farm, we’re trying to raise pre-teen kids through a pandemic, juggle major home renovations in the off-season, and a growing farm business in the active season. The learning curves all around us are steep, and it’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed, and alone.
But, I have to remember that we’re not alone.
You see, there is a whole hoard of other enthusiastic people just like us, who are just as keen on producing healthy food for their community, through hard work, and turning to practices that are easier on the environment than conventional farming. They’re young-ish. They want to make a real difference in the world. They balance off-farm work with the demands of this lifestyle, they juggle kids, manage livestock calamities, do bookkeeping (even when they suck at it!), promote their goods, bale hay, connect with customers, and above all, act as the vital threads in the vibrant fabric of agriculture. This strong community holds its members tightly, and I can honestly say, it’s probably my most favourite community I’ve been part of. I’d always hoped this collaborative spirit was still alive somewhere, and it is. It’s in modern agriculture, and it’s in your backyard.
So, between the daunting path of being a first generation farmer, and finally getting the hang of growing a parsnip, comes these ‘in between’ moments. It’s like that feeling when you take a blind step, and those seconds before your foot makes contact with a solid surface, feels endless. It’s taking a risk with something new, and hoping it all works out. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it’s a catastrophic failure (here’s looking at you, ‘living walkway’ garden - haha!) I’m grateful in those moments that an amazing, energetic and encouraging community exists to remind me that they also once took that blind step, and the floor just isn’t that far away.
The next time you swing by a farmstand, market stall, or simply admire the tomato plant you just brought home, think of the many ‘in between’ moments that brought that food to you. I know I do!