Field Notes - Week 1/2

 

As the growing season begins, Flipside Farm is tirelessly working to ensure that all components of our operation are humming. In the greenhouse and in the fields, our feet muddy, our hands dirty, and our muscles contract as the daily pursuit of staying on time with our schedule becomes much increasingly necessary. It's job that begets a fruitful season for our CSA members and customers. And it's a job that's hidden from a lot of you guys - the patrons and supports of our farm. The season roils forward while much of our daily interactions with the land, and many interactions with the organic food landscape, are unheard. This blog post and the subsequent writings will hopefully shed light onto what exactly happens on a pugnacious organic farm. If it could offer any clues as to why we do this, then we'll consider this a worthwhile venture. At the very least, we are interested in transparency and insight into this place we've made our home. Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

Details of the farm begin to emerge as the early spring sun sluggishly awakes to the horizon. A barricade of pines, spruces, and oaks wall in the tilled land. Bordering the east perimeter is a forest where deer and foxes shuffle their feet and burst away from thrill-hungry hunters in blinks, and to the west a dirt road traverses the patchwork neighborhood of western New Jersey farmland, where an occasional, dim buzz of vehicle movement briefly distorts the sereine hum of a robin calling out to a mate, the shuffling feet of farmers dissecting the work ahead of them. During the morning of the whole crew’s first day together, pellets of snow dropped down as we skirted around the boundaries that make the 93-acre property what it is: a farm. The only difference being the produce we harvest is raised with the unconditional promise of growing in tandem with the land, not opposed to it nor in battle against it. Food that flourishes without the perplexing presence of industrial inputs like chemical sprays and petroleum-based fertilizers. Food that requires tractor work but dutifully relies on the functional inventiveness of a venturing farm its and crew. Food that is grown organically, for the benefit and nurturance of the land.

 

As we bear witness to the beginning of the growing season, we leave the unsavory memories and grievances of last season’s failures behind but take away tenets of objective lessons and teachings that can help better our understanding of beneficial agricultural practices. Some of us who come to Flipside this season possess little experience while others have run their fingers through the soil countless times, fully unaware of how many beds they’ve planted and how many looks out onto the horizon of the field they’ve taken. Yet both groups take the opportunities of the season anew, the idea being that the tumult and fervor felt the year prior will leave the seasoned group imprinted with accessible roadmaps and conceptual foundations to bring pastures and crop fields to life, while the unacquainted view the grandeur of the land, brimming with anticipation.  

 

As this piece is being composed, a week and a half has passed, and the ground are beginning to display the much awaited arrival of vegetables. Rows of garlic are pushing their stalks up through the mulch where their green stems soak in the radiant sun. Neighboring this bed are lines of chard and scallions, which are beginning to shoot their roots down, puncturing lower layers of earth, while taking shape in and amongst the soup of compost, organic matter, and beneficials sustaining them. In what will seem like no time at all, their size and stature will take a dramatic shift as they will out their portion of the landscape. The sight fulfills the soul, validating the strain our muscles labor through. The hours of punish a farmer’s body weathers become a bygone when the eyes gaze upon the finished product.

 

Those thoughts of exuberance and joy are with us everyday, perhaps a feeling carried in our pocket alongside cutting blades and pliers. In walks and discussions around the grounds, one can hear the bubbling, capillary excitement of what’s to come as our knees bend to the ground and our back muscles twinge and tense. What starts as a barren and wintry sight slowly unfurls decadence and might. Produce captures every portion of vision, periphery and all. In a matter of time, the fields will be laced with splendor. For now, they hold our fears and dreams, apprehension and reverence. As each day progresses, our attention roves around the farm, and the work to ensure our future success continues.