January 24, 2017
What is in the VEGGIE BOX
Carrots, Collards, Tatsai, Carrots, Cabbage, Arugula and Dried
What is in the FRUIT BOX? Oranges, Tangelos, and Dried Apricots
This Week on the Farm
Another week of wonderful rain. Sure, no question that there are downsides to the dampness. We fall behind on key pruning and plantings, the fungi in the soil take a broccoli crop, slugs take a tatsai crop, but oh my, after the terrible feeling that there may never again in my lifetime be enough rain, each drop is a blessing and a reminder of a lesson I hope to learn someday. Clean air, clean water, enough air, enough water, clean soil, enough soil….these are not eternal givens, are not limitless and are ours to honor and sustain as the gifts that sustain us. Last year and the year before, I can remember the terrible feeling of dust in January and dust in February that felt like the possibility of a bleak and thirsty future. As the rains started this year, I swore that never again would I curse the problems of the rain and mud and wet of a California winter. To paraphrase my Grandfather Gilliam: “If you tell me this steak (or this rain) is tough, then I will tell you….it is tougher where there is none!” Now I understand that better.
A couple of hundred trees arrived at Good Humus this past week, in the middle of the driving rain. 60 plums, 40 pears, plus 10 quince, 6 Grannysmith apples, 25 lilacs, and a few others all got their roots dug into a small area awaiting a good planting time. These are our hope for the future, just like having a family. I just cannot plant a tree without thinking of the mature limbs spreading wide in the sunlight, loaded with fruit, flowers and beauty to share with the world. Like children, they are a bridge for to a future time, to a good future where they thrive. It is my kind of investment agriculture, an investment in the future health of a family, of a farm, of a community, of a region. As I walk among the old trees that were planted as a bridge to this future, I am reminded that they, in their age, also bridge us to other times, to our own history, to the history of this family farm, people who we planted with, to a community that was , and to a region that now is different. And as they say, again a paraphrase: “In knowing and remembering history, we have the possibility of a better future”. I look to the trees of the hills and dimly perceive their history, I look at our own old gnarlies, and remember the times, I look at and worry about the health of the trees that support us now, and dream about the future of those small trees in their nursery area among the citrus trees.
Last night Annie and I went to the first meeting of the year of the One Farm at a Time (One Farm) initiative that we, along with the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop, the Davis Food Coop, California Farm Link and Twin Pines Cooperative Fund, helped found. After more twists and turns than a good mystery novel, we are in the last stages of placing a permanent easement on our Good Humus property. So the first meeting of the year was about where to go from here. So important for all our dreams for this idea is that it not stop with just one farm, but that there be a continuing energy that moves forward to preserve the small producing farms of an entire region. Many of you are shoppers at the Davis or at the Sacramento Coops and are familiar with what we are talking about, but there is one thing I want to be sure is clear. This is about how any of us can help keep our local food supply system alive. Today, more than ever, I watch pretty helplessly the institutional and regulatory attack on the financial viability of the small farms that rely on local distribution to earn their living. There are whole rafts of solid trends in the modern world that contribute to this situation, but there is an alternative future. At one end of this alternative is a pipeline of young, savvy, experienced farmers accessing affordable land that are committed to producing agricultural products for their regional community. At the other end is a regional community of people committed to the support and financial viability of those local producers. We must have both to provide for ourselves regionally, and that has been the magic of the One Farm initiative. It has been the continuing food purchasing and financial support of the people of Yolo and Sacramento Counties that have enabled us to nearly conclude this first project with a positive outcome. Now, as One FArm works to find the next farm to preserve for future generations, as the Sacramento Food Coop moves into a new store, as older farmers continue to transition, and as the social and financial climates adjust themselves to new realities, the real work begins. At the end of the Good Humus project, l Annie and I plan to continue our association with One Farm and to continue to work toward a positive, empowered future for our local food system.