I have this tension that revolves around the school calendar. Every Spring I need help with planting and weeding and the kids are still in school. Then, every Fall I need help with harvesting and the kids are back in school, though I do appreciate the return to a normal schedule that comes with this time of year. But, unlike the Spring where the work is more tractor and less harvesting, the Fall is more harvesting. What typically gets planted as tiny seeds in the Spring will be harvested by the ton – think pumpkins, winter squash, potatoes, beets. So, if I could choose the ideal school calendar, it would be: out in mid-May, back in July, out in September and back in mid-October. That would accommodate a vegetable farmers schedule nicely!
But that is not the School calendar and I am not going to attempt to change it either. Farmers represent 1% of the population and an even smaller percentage of the 1% are vegetable/fruit farmers. Of those who are smaller vegetable/fruit farmers an even smaller percentage of those actually hire school/college kids to work on their farms. Which makes me a really small percentage of the farming population and an even smaller percentage of the overall population. Suffice it to say, it would be a better use of my time to work on solving the Salmon/habitat/farming issues that affect local food production in the Puget sound area than to try and change the school calendar!
Which is precisely where I have been investing my time for the last few years as a Co-Chair of the Snohomish Sustainable Land Strategy. In addition to parenting, running a home delivery company and a 40-acre vegetable/fruit and grass-fed beef farm, I also donate about 10-15 hours a week on environmental issues. So, when Fall rolls around and the farm begins to slow down, I also get to a little more sanity in my world. One reason is that the kids are going back to school, but mostly it is because my farm is requiring less of my time. Yes, it is a crazy life, especially during farming season! But each of us has a crazy element to our lives and managing the “crazy” goes with the territory.
Even though farmers are a very small part of the population, I hope is goes without saying that we need more local vegetable and fruit farms, not less; and those local farms need more places to sell, not less. Which brings it back to you. Because you choose to buy from a local farm, who also buys from other local farms, you get super fresh food, while supporting a different food system, a smaller more intimate food system.
With your help we are changing the food system one nutritious bite at a time.
Farmer, Health Advocate