August 10, 2008

Holy Tomatoes

If I've learned one thing on the farm this summer it's that farming is an intensely spiritual line of work. One must have an abundance of faith in order to trust that year in, year out, nature will again take its course and produce something of value. It seems especially difficult in the spring, when (produce) farmers are getting things ready in the greenhouse and starting to transplant. A classic example of believing without seeing. Trusting that there is some other life form that will come-forth, bud, and fruit not without help, but without force, requires the patience of a person who trusts in the strength of something other than oneself. To me, that is a very spiritual thing.

And now the plants are ever-bearing fruit. Not only are they fruits of labor, but they're also fruits of faith. They exist because our farmer believed in them enough to make sure they were well-tended, watered, cultivated, weeded, etc. The most recent source of excitement and plenty is found in the tomatoes. We've got all varieties: hothouse, cherry (grape, sun-gold), and heirlooms (brandywine, cherokee purple, german stripe.) Another element of spirituality that I have recently experienced on account of the tomatoes is patience. Patience when it comes to daily-routines and scheduled tasks. One rainy day last week prevented the Gascas from getting to the tomatoes up on the ridge for the majority of the afternoon. That evening I had dinner plans with a couple over at Wiscoy, so I was itching to get off the farm by 5. We had been expecting the tomatoes (along with onions and carrots) for the majority of the day, but they never showed. Just before we all decided it might be best to just go home - they came. The tomatoes must have carried extra energy from out in the field because not 20 minutes later, the farm was abuzz with people boxing, wiping, labeling, packing, stacking, loading, and moving the tomatoes. This was a very important farming experience for myself as I saw first-hand how unselfish one must be with one's time as a farmer, and how you have to work around nature and the state of your crops. Dinner had to wait, and it did, along with my friends, until nearly 7:30.

Another area of excitement for me has been projects that I have been involved with on the farm. As a journalism student, I knew that I didn't have any sort of agricultural expertise coming into the experience. So, when I get the opportunity to contribute a valuable skill set to the farm - it is a big deal for me. Writing, photography, and page design skills have gotten me involved in some fundraising and marketing projects for the farm. Being pulled from the physical labor does mean that I don't have dirty fingernails and a sore left-shoulder, but much like the physical work of farming, doing marketing is something that takes convincing yourself that it will pay off, even if not immediately.

I hate to say it, but things are winding down for me at my summer-farm experience. 3 weeks to go! I will have more time on my hands when I move back to the Cities (only 15 credits this semester), and I hope to keep you in tune to my reflections and musings as my summer comes to a close. But it won't stop there, as I will continue to blog about my experience at Cornercopia - a University of Minnesota student-run organic vegetable garden.

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