The Body and Farming

As I sit here this morning, I ache. My hands a bit sore. My neck kind of tense. I may chalk up the feeling to my getting older (I’m 42), but I remember feeling the exact same way at the end of June when I was a 26-year-old apprentice. Instead, I simply acknowledge that my body acclimating to the season, just as it’s done for 18 farm seasons.

Jon_Solinger_Photo_07581_August 29_ 2014-EditYou see, I’ve observed the same progression year after year. The spring is work, but of a different flavor than summer. Spring work is quite mental and preparatory as I worry about seeding schedules and planting times. Tilling the ground and popping in some seeds isn’t strenuous at all. Now, however, it gets physical. Starting in June, vegetable farming becomes all hoeing, hand weeding, and harvesting. Three to four of us invested eight hours yesterday doing nothing but weeding onions-the job is still incomplete-and that was after some recreational hoeing in the morning and before picking peas and setting up for the boxes.

I don’t write about my being tired and sore looking for sympathy. I write about this experience because, in my mind, I’m telling the story of most of human history. From the fertile crescent until this century, we shared this season of labor. This ramping up of physical work fits the flow of the calendar and the natural seasons of the year. The light and heat of summer confers the energy we need to give a big push of effort, which, for a lot of history, was necessary for survival. If you didn’t move in July to make hay, you literally starved in January.

Our bodies adjust. My own aches subside as I chug through July, and, by the end of August, I’m all wiry with a really strong grip. It feels good to get on the other side. It also feels good to relax on the deck in a cool October. For that season will come too.

In the box:

  • Snap Peas: Edible pods…just eat them, don’t shell them.
  • Broccoli
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Curly Westlander Kale: The bunch with a blue band.
  • Spinach: Big and green with a pink end. This is a full-sized savoy-type spinach.
  • Baby Arugula: The small oakleaf-shaped green. We grew this under a row cover, so I’m happy to report minimal holes in this crop from flea beetles (unlike in the mixed greens last week).
  • Garlic Scapes: These are shoots off of hardneck garlic which you can use in a recipe to replace garlic.

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