“Hand me that pipe wrench…you have to turn that really tight for it to hold…thinking about where the world’s heading, I really want you to go to school so you can work with your mind and not your hands…” I received many lessons about life and talked about important things in our lives while working a jobsite with my dad.
Since then, the men I’ve connected with the most has been through work. And I mean real work-not the two of us looking at an Excel sheet together-but physically laboring together. The act of work alone brought us together, and time working together was also the opportunity when we talked about things that matter: death and love, fatherhood, community responsibilities.
I’ve had similar experiences with women in my life, certainly, but I bring this up in the context of men in large part because men have been in a funk lately. Men are all worked up about their identity and their role in today’s age…the path just isn’t as clear as past generations. This causes a whole host of issues as men shirk their ‘traditional’ responsibilities as fathers and husbands and engagement with neighbors.
Maybe it’s just my blue collar upbringing, but I imagine we’re in this funk because we’ve lost those work settings where we mentored young men and connected with each other. Since the beginning of civilation we’ve labored together side-by-side in this fashion and now we remotely play Playstation or watch ESPN together. In my view agriculture has and can still play this all-important role of bringing us together for real connection and giving us purpose. Instead of bemoaning the loss of farming as we often do, let’s do some fencing already! Invite over some friends, get some nails, and build and create. Chase some calves together through a pasture. I think men and the world will be better for it – at the very least women will enjoy getting them out of the house for awhile.
In the box:
- Garlic scapes (see recipe below): Small bunch of green curley things with a rubber band. You can also check out this link if you’re confused about how to use them.
- Swiss chard: Colorful green banded together
- Greenleaf lettuce
- Napa cabbage: This is the second week, so I hope I didn’t wear out my welcome on this one.
- Cilantro: Small bunch of banded green
- Spinach; Loose green on top
- Kohlrabi: Big bulbou
- Snap peas: Edible pod
Green Surprise Dip
1 cup steamed kale, Swiss chard, or spinach
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves of garlic (or use a 2-3 garlic scapes)
1 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
Puree in blender or food processor. use as a dip for veggies, crackers, or chips.
|Late night produce washing (fall, 2016)
What does it take to get another CSA season off the ground? Energy, money, and the right frame of mind.
Let’s start with energy. Now that I’m 40 I’m pretty sure that I don’t have the same amount of energy as when I started our CSA at the ripe age of 27. And I certainly don’t have the grand sense of adventure of 24-year-old Ryan, who, as an apprentice at Foxtail Farm, looked forward to his second season like a new rock band firing up the van for their second world tour. Lately, all this heat and dry conditions have been testing my energy as we dash to keep ahead of weeds and weepy plants.
Next, money. Ah, yes, the dreaded thing we Midwesterners often shy away from. I think for folks from the outside, a produce farm looks pretty simple, you know, a bigger version of anybody’s home garden. In many respects, it’s highly complicated and certainly one the highest input or expensive farms per acre you can find, especially when certified organic. So far this season I guesstimate that about $23,000 has gone out the door. The big checks were for a new greenhouse (which I’ve yet to finish) at nearly $10,000 and a new tiller at $5,000, but a bunch of others are pretty common no matter the season:
- $3,500: organic seeds – crazy when you think that we only plant 4 acres
- $1,700: organic fertilizer
- $770: organic certification fees
- $600: propane
- $600: waxed CSA boxes
- And the list goes on…you get the idea
Lastly, and probably the most important, is getting in the right frame of mind. I think anybody can relate, whether you’re running 5k or expecting 20 guests for a big holiday dinner, the ability to get your head in the game is critical to success.
Only in the past week, over 3 months since we planted our first seeds for the summer season, have I been getting there. I almost need a little panic to give me the adrenaline I need to go ‘all in’ on the season. I received my warning shot this past week as pretty much every inch of ground has begun sprouting weeds and the plants are almost screaming for water in the hot, 20 mph wind. Game on, Ryan!