This beautiful fall day – 60, sunny, and still – marks the official end to our farming season. As Farmer Dave and a group of CSA volunteers enjoy the weather out in Soule field while planting the remaining garlic, I sit in front of the computer and try to sum up 20 weeks of hard-work, delicious food, community, variable weather, new friends, animals come and gone, and much more.
The ‘season’ in fact starts for Dave well before June, when the first market opens and the first CSA members arrive at Plato’s Harvest to discover what’s in harvest and wander the farm, feeding the animals and taking a break from their day. And it also goes well beyond today as Dave must still clean up and prepare the fields for the cold weather, move animals to their winter homes, care for the cows until December, and take care of everything he didn’t have time for since April. But the bulk of value in what we do takes place in the 20 weeks spanning June to October. It is during these months that we share our harvest, Plato’s Harvest, with friends, members, market-goers, and visitors to our home.
The spring, summer, and early fall are marked by a weekly routine beginning on Monday with volunteer visits from “the moms”, field work, and prep for Tuesday. Tuesday starts early as we rush to harvest everything for the Cambridge market and be on the road by 10:15, not returning until after 8:00. Wednesday flows right into our first CSA pickup, with more harvesting and washing, mixed in with field work and community. Thursday, we begin again the market routine, this time bringing our wares to Steven’s Field in Plymouth. Friday follows, looking much like Wednesday, with our second CSA pickup and more time (for me anyway) playing with the children that visit the farm. The weekend is a chance to slow down – just a bit – but is still full with animal care, field work, and planning for the following week. And Monday it begins again.
In truth, I cannot even say the end is bittersweet – although I feel I should. I truly enjoyed the time spent with our CSA members and the games played with their kids, and I looked forward to spending a day in Harvard Square, chatting with our regular customers, and sharing in their joy of the food they would take home. I loved our days in Plymouth, surrounded by friends, set to a background of blue ocean and live music. But I am ready for the change, not in small part because I miss my husband and want to see him rest.
“Talk to me in November” is a commonly heard utterance from April through October, as during this time he has barely time to think. Time away, excursions to the city or the Cape, visiting friends, are all wonderful but very rare occasions. Dave’s schedule is relentless and often follows him to his sleep, leading him to rise before dawn to still the constant concerns invading his dreams and nudging him to wake up early and get started. It is all he can do to hang on this last week, and get up the drive to prep for market. It’s like, what for me, is the end of a run. Where I see the end ahead and its all I can do to not stop 20, 40, 100 feet short of the mark.
And so, today, the routine ends. The work continues, and in fact we’ll be participating at a once-monthly winter market in Plymouth, but the days will shift to more of what some would see as a lazy summer. Waking with the sun, never before dawn, taking time in the morning with breakfast, catching up on emails, finding time to read, and choosing when to head to the farm to care for the animals and finish up field-work, versus having the routine choose for us.
Now I must be clear – as my husband does access this site, and is probably already laughing in his head or thinking sarcastic thoughts – that the bulk of this applies to him. I help with the CSA and the market, I occasionally contribute in the field, and I keep up this website, but never have I, nor could I, match the stamina and commitment that Dave displays. Since I left my job in May, I try my hardest to get up AFTER the sun rises. I am home by dark when he is not. I visit family and friends on an occasional weekend or weekday, where he has no time to do the same. And so, as I said, my contentment with the end to ‘the season’ comes in large part on behalf of my partner and hero.
We want to thank all of you for your participation in the farm and the bounty of the harvest. That is why Dave does this. Yes, we like to eat, but could satisfy ourselves with a small garden. It is because he wants to share the joy and richness of healthy fresh food with others like himself. We take great joy in the time people spend on the farm, and the access the children have to the animals and the notion of where their food comes from. The thanks we receive, and the appreciation of the effort we put in, never goes unnoticed. Those kind words keep Dave going on the toughest of days. So thank you!
Farmer Dave and Sasha