Today, several friends and I toured an amazing local farm with its manager, Alan. We were in awe from the moment we drove through the gate. The buildings surrounding the greenhouse have an intimate old world appeal that dazzled us. Every detail was lovingly rendered, every plant vessel and tool, inspired. This is the stuff of which dreams are made.
Fourteen households are fed from their agricultural wonderland.
I would lose sleep if I was responsible for feeding so many. Drought, plague, voles, vegetable kidnappers…. stuff happens.
Charts of vegetables and herbs are precisely mapped out on paper, with the dates of propagation, setting out in the garden, and expected harvest. Years of experience have provided Alan with the knowledge to maximize the productivity of every square inch.
I am always left with gaps in my beds as I harvest, but Alan gave us a few tips on companion planting to maximize our yield. For instance, he told us, lettuces and leeks, or peas and leeks, make good bedfellows, because the lettuces or peas will grow, feed the fourteen families and be finished when the leeks are growing on and maturing in the space they vacated. This is the graduate school level of vegetable gardening. I have never progressed beyond Veg 101, and thrilled just to see seeds germinate and grow.
This is a hillside of blueberries. I have to ask Alan how he keeps them out of the mouths of birds and chipmunks. Animals that live near gardeners must be replete with antioxidants, beta carotene and such… with enviable fur and teeth.
Of course the farm has a very nifty composting operation.
And really nice cold frames.
Alan is a tool guy. But us girls were mightily impressed. Johnny’s Seeds is going to wonder why this sudden explosion of orders all going to the same town.
This is an old-fashioned aerator.
This amazing gadget dispenses the seed as you roll it along the planting bed, while the little wheel tamps the seed down.
I miss Smith and Hawkins watering cans… and a lot of other good stuff.
This unglamourous, but very effective tool shaves off the weeds as you drag it between your rows of veggies.
After all the hard work of tending the vegetables, it is propitious to have a nice place in the shade to cool yourself in a pool of lovely clean water.
Alan let us sow seeds from his treasure trove of vegetable, flower and herb packets. I felt like a kindergartner gleefully bringing home my own little tray of soil, to set in anticipation on the kitchen windowsill, for the magical germination of the tiny seed.
This little farm, so close to my own backyard, contains all the hope, purpose, promise and beauty of living well in cooperation with nature.