In many parts of the country, it’s been a rough spring for gardeners. Our hearts go out to the small farmers who are trying to make a go of it despite nature’s challenges. We’d like to share this inspiring post from one of our Vermont neighbors, Mara Welton of Half Pint Farm.
It has been an incredible month, an incredible spring. It has been a spring that has seemingly been trying at every turn to keep us from farming. There was the flooding, then there was the saturated ground. Then there was the flooding again, then the project we didn’t anticipate that has gobbled up weeks and weeks of our time. Then, there was the dry incredible week that gave us hope and made us able to get a tractor on the ground to prepare our beds (finally!), no matter six weeks late. Then there was the rain, then the lightning, the hail, the tornado warning, the washing out of the plants that we had finally gotten a chance to plant. Then the rotting of the potatoes, and then the scrambling around to find more potatoes to plant. Five floods later (!), we get a dry, hopeful week, waters reliably receding, and the frenetic planting of everything that had not died in the greenhouse waiting to get planted. Phew. Then more hail. Ugh.
What’s a farmer to do? We have chosen a profession that hinges on the weather — more so now in the era of global climate change than ever before; weather patterns, though never entirely predictable, have become decidedly unpredictable, extreme weather events more frequent, and destruction of everything we believe in seemingly inevitable. Just today, with another crazy apocalyptic gullywasher and hailstorm under my belt, I have decided to learn something from all this, even though it seems so much easier to just pack it all up, go home and hibernate for the rest of the season since this doesn’t feel like farming at all.
The lesson I have decided to take away from this challenging spring is: move forward. Attempt to accomplish something everyday, even when my carefully laid field plans have been dashed, and we have to abandon too-wet fields, eliminate certain crops all together, and keep telling faithful customers that we don’t have anything to sell; I am finding that we are able to call a day a success if we get some more plants in the ground, set up our wash-station for that hopeful day when we have crops to wash, and continually plunk seeds into the reassuringly dry patches that we do have.
I have decided to choose to be continuously amazed by plants and wildlife in general. Just today, while dodging marble-sized hail, I saw my newly planted peppers take it on the kisser like a champ — not even getting bruised. Abandoning my shoes for barefoot farming today, I had the pleasure of splashing through puddles that had tons of tiny frogs swimming in them. Pure magic. I feel like I literally saw a romano bean seedling emerge triumphantly from rain-pounded crust we’ll call soil. Glorious! The first plants we seeded this year, artichokes (planted in the greenhouse, March 18) went into the ground today, immediately jettisoned their dead leaves and stood a little prouder. Victory! One week after planting yellowed, scraggly, sad looking tomato plants (1,520 total), their growing tips are green with life, and have never looked more strong. Success!
As I continuously move forward in my mud-caked bare feet, I have promised myself that this spring, even though Mother Nature seems to have plans to conspire against us farmers, I will defiantly continue to plunk plants and seeds in the soil, change my plans to adapt to the new landscape, morph how I feel about how farming should be, and simply keep on farming any way I can.