In the home stretch

It’s the end of day 1 of 2 for harvest week 15 of 19. The weather has definitely turned from hot summer days to cool fall ones. And though I wish some heat would return so my cool weather greens can get some more growing in, I’m also looking forward to winding down this season. Some light frosts have hit the farm already so I’ve brought in the bulk of my winter squash crop, which is now in my summer kitchen, along with the pumpkins. There are still some summer squash and various hot crops in the field which I will get tomorrow, along with chard, kale, spring onions and beets. For the last 4 (optimistically) weeks, I’ll have carrots, parsnips (just waiting for a good frost to sweeten them up) and beets to bring in. And while a hard frost holds off, there will be bok choy and hopefully some spinach and salad greens to harvest as well.

Season 2 at the farm has definitely been very different from 2009! The weather has been almost the opposite, and the field doesn’t look anything like last year. There have been a number of torrential rains at the farm this summer, which makes me extra thankful that I managed to grow dwarf white clover in my pathways this year. Without them to hold the soil in place, I would have had rivers running through the field! Unfortunately, with all the hot and muggy weather we’ve had, my tomatoes didn’t do at all well this year, getting the blight after a particularly steamy week. And my winter squash didn’t do well either, for reasons that I can only speculate about. So my two best crops last year were essentially crop failures this year. I’ll definitely have to see what I can do to mitigate against a repeat next year!

I also have to reevaluate ‘fall’ in my head. Last year, September and early October were like the summer that we never got, so this year, when summer came early, the timing of my various plants’ production caught me with earlier finishes than I expected.

I have to admit that I’ve had (and will continue to have) some anxious weeks, worried that I won’t have enough produce fill my vegetable subscribers’ packages. Until I actually start harvesting and recording inventory, I don’t know for sure that I can manage for that week and I hate to consider that I might have to cancel a week’s delivery and refund payments. But each week, no matter how sparse the field looks, I turn out to have just enough. I’m reminded of the Israelites wandering in the desert and being provided with manna for food. They could only gather enough to eat for that day (any extras wouldn’t keep) and had to trust in God to provide for their needs. For these past and coming few weeks, I feel like I’m in a similar situation. No matter how anxious I feel about my field’s production, there always turns out to be just enough. I wish I had enough faith not to feel anxious in the first place, but I’m not quite there yet in my spiritual life. Despite the fact that I went into farming with my eyes wide open about the production, and therefore income, risks I’m taking, part of me definitely yearns for more stability. I’m reminded of missionary stories I heard as a child, about missionaries who didn’t know where their next meal would come from, or the money to pay their bills, but God would always provide. I never thought then that I would have to have that same faith in God to provide for me now. It’s very humbling.

This is the story of my journey into sustainable agriculture. From the streets of downtown Toronto, to the farm land of southern Ontario, I hope to discover the techniques and practices that work for me in both mind and heart.

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