Written by Kyler Cubbage and Ian Erlichman
With the onset of a frozen winter, the farm goes into hibernation. After helping Bob set up fences to keep pesky deer away from the blueberry bushes and firing up the snowmobile, we backed the tractor into the barn and covered the arugula and kale, effectively tucking the farm in for a long winter’s nap. As the fall chapter of our year on the farm comes to a close we would like to recap what we’ve done so far.
When we arrived in September the farm was overflowing with crops. In the midst of harvest season our main responsibility was to pick the kale, carrots, tomatoes, squash, etc. bursting from the rows. As the crop surplus began to dwindle, we cycled between finishing up with the harvesting and taking the steps necessary to ensure that the farm would be easily re-invigorated come springtime. These steps included taking down the tomato ladders, splitting firewood, organizing the barn, and storing the vegetables that would be preserved for the winter. We were able to see how farming is not a vocation, but a lifestyle.
Bob devotes a huge portion of his time to farming, and through working with him; we were able to observe nuances in the farming practice, unavailable to the average college student. One of the most preeminent among them was the connection to the earth. The life-giving power of the land dictates what we harvest, what we don’t, and most importantly what we can eat. Seeing the production of produce in its most natural form was a culturally humbling experience. I think in our age of manufacturing, information and technology we are overzealous in our approximations about how easily we can obtain food in increasing variety, and quality. Seeing the seasonal changes in crop availability and most memorably, performing the physical labor involved in harvest, disabused us of the idea that: “food just comes from the Supermarket.” Bob emphasized the importance of “the arc”, and though that may seem enigmatic to some, by the end of the semester we knew exactly the type of changes he was referring to. From picking tiny cherry tomatoes and digging potatoes in early fall, to chopping wood and storing preserves, nearing winter, we now had a glimpse into the power the earth holds over our food availability and amount of labor required to extract it. Despite the knowledge we’ve acquired over the past semester, we still have a lot to learn from Bob and Flip. We’ve seen the harvest, but now we get look at the flip-side of the “harvest coin:” spring planting.