Everyone seems to be doing top ten lists this time of year. Since I usually take this season to reflect and record what has happened, I thought it might be nice to do a little top 10 from our first season of farming. These are not in any particular order:
10. Learning that Andrew and I have different working styles. I tend to be quick, efficient and sometimes inaccurate. Andrew is often slower, thoughtful and precise. These are both great sets of skills for building a hoop house. The trick is I learning to utilize both of our strengths. Next hoop house in 2012 we can get plenty of practice!
9. Kat and Geoff randomly finding us at the farm market and deciding to come live in our barn! They were both a joy to have here and really brought something special–beyond just extra hands–to the farm. They opened both of us to the idea of having interns live on the farm and helped me recharge on days I was feeling really exausted.
8. Plymouth Farmers Market. Somewhere during the middle of the season it hit me that the customers I meet and serve are the reason I’m doing this! Sure I love to eat and work outside, but to see people come back every week that love eating healthy, local, seasonal produce–that is inspiring! Even on rough mornings when I was exhausted from the week, after a bit of coffee and some conversation with a few of the customers I’d be feeling really great!
7. Related to the previous: my dad (John) and Micheal P! I had planned to run the Plymouth Market on my own on Saturdays (I can tack that one to naivete), but John offered to come out and help! It was so much fun to work side by side with my dad and see him flourish chatting with people and sometimes selling produce:) I hope we can continue the tradition every year. Michael started helping at the market after some casual conversations at Zingermans Mail Order (where we met) and soon enough he was showing up at the crack of dawn every Saturday to sell his delicious croutons and help us out A LOT!! I should also add what wonderful vendors we were next to the entire season!
6. Deb (my mother-in-law) , my mom and Mary Lynn. I am eternally greatful to these lovely ladies for coming out several times during the season to attack the crazy herb plot. Its planted and tucked away for the year and promises a productive year next year thanks to all of their blood, sweat and tears (perhaps over sore backs).
5. Barn swallows, toads, bats, bees and other beneficial insects! Its amazing to see the ecosystem filled with life that encompasses the farm. Every time I witnessed beneficial critters and bugs buzzing and hopping around I felt a sense of gratitude. I’m also naturally curious so I really enjoyed just observing what the farm became for other living things here.
4. Our first annual fall potluck! We kind of threw it together last minute but we had a wonderful group of folks come out that included fellow farmers, customers, neighbors, family and friends. It was a much needed pause in the season to relax together and break bread. We plan to do this at least twice next season!
3. All of the amazing farmers,food producers, artisans and market managers I met and formed a kinship this year. Going to market is hard work. Without good people and a support network, I doubt I would have made it a month. This was something I truly treasure and was totally unexpected.
2. Meeting our financial goals in our first season! It was a true learning curve, but being able to push my limits and see what can be done with 1/4 acre was really important for moving forward and growing the farm in years to come!
1. Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. From using new tools on my own to approaching a new restaurant customer…I really expanded the scope of what I thought I was capable of. I think that is one element of this work that is so terrifying and also rewarding. The work is never done and neither is the personal growth.
Our first winter harvest! Delicious greens and sweet carrots!