May 21, 2008

I’m surprised I’m not turning green; I’ve been eating asparagus in quantities my body isn’t used to. It’s so fresh and delicious. This morning was spent cleaning up the shop/office again, and getting to know my new co-workers Justin and Evan. Justin reminds me of my brothers-in-law – a farmer at heart. He grew his own garden last year and sold at the farmers’ market, making nearly $5,000. He goes to school at the University of Minnesota. Evan reminds me of one of my old high school classmates, Cody Scholten. He is very nice, and knows each piece of farm equipment like the back of his hand. He loves motorcycles and is a total gear-head, handy around the farm – a very integral part of the farm.

There is also a lot of excitement around the farm as one of the Mexican brothers that works on the farm, Estaban, is going back to Leon, Mexico to plant his own field of corn next week. He will be back in two weeks, but in the meantime, Jack, Evan, Justin (and even Mary!) will be waiting with anticipation for their real snakeskin boots, which Estaban will be bringing back because they only cost $100 instead of $450. Jack claims he doesn’t own a pair, and that they will be his first. (He’s a unique mix of a farmer: he wears Carharts and Birkenstocks.) Estaban informed us that there are even pink, purple, and blue ones – with matching belts. I was slightly tempted, but declined politely.

It was Justin’s birthday today. Jack told us that the Brothers usually cook a big feast for the birthday bashes, but nobody had known about the special occasion yet except Jack, so he ordered some donuts for a mid-afternoon snack.

I got dirt under my nails again today! This is due to the rest of the morning spent planting tomatillos and apple peppers in the greenhouse. Jack showed me how to put the soil in the tray, compact it down a ways, place a seed, and cover it again – a pretty straightforward process. These seeds were planted in trays in order to be transplanted at a later time. Jack explained that certain seeds need a deep and densely packed soil environment. The peppers in particular, are very finicky. No matter how many things this guy has going on at once, he'll never hesitate to explain how to do the most mundane task- a very thoughtful and considerate boss.

Today my lunch consisted of half a bagel with baba ganoush with, you guessed it – asparagus. And a leftover brownie from the community meal.

The afternoon was spent with Jack, running errands and visiting the various fields near Rushford. I cannot comprehend how busy this man is, his cell must have rang at least 10 times during our trip. He brought me to the land where they are growing peas, radishes, spinach, arugula, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, among many other things. The largest section of this land is dedicated solely to lettuce – nearly 3 acres of it – green leaf, butter, romaine, spinach, red oak, and I’m sure some more that I missed. As we walked through the field, he explained to me at which point they harvest and how they go about contacting the store to tell them they’re ready to ship. It sounds like the relationship is not nearly as contractual as corn or soybean farmers’ relationships is with their buyers. Jack said, for most of his crops and his buyers, he is not obligated to give them an x amount of a certain vegetable, with a few exceptions.

Before leaving the field, Jack and I stopped to pick some green garlic and radishes for me to take home. And that brings me to supper- I had linguine with sautéed green garlic, radishes, and asparagus (again!). I’ve just realized that I’ve eaten meat once this whole time I’ve been here. The dish went great except for the fact that I burnt the green garlic, but I don’t mind a toasty flavor – it adds another element. This was the first time I turned on the stove, and I’m very excited for future food adventures from the farm.

The rest of the night consisted in a long stroll along the gravel roads (where you find the best reception), talking to my family on the cell phone. As I was walking up back to my cabin I stopped to talk to one of my neighbors ,Pryce. He gave me a housewarming gift of a beeswax candle that his wife made from the farm. Again, another gesture of warmth that has slowly made me feel at home.

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