Farm Week (Plus): September 9-15, 2013

This week was an abbreviated farm week and a mini-vacation. Apprentices here get five vacation days each, and since it was nearing the end of the season and I had yet to take any, I decided to treat myself to a long weekend in and around Burlington, VT. I took a day and a half of vacation, leaving after the morning harvest on Thursday and narrowly (mostly) beating the heavy rains coming in from the southeast.

First, however, I had most of a farm week. As the busiest part of the season has passed for the most part, the CRAFT visits have resumed in earnest. This past Monday we visited a family-run orchard down in Roxbury, CT, Maple Bank Farm. Although they're not an organic operation, they were one of the first farms in the area to be growing food locally to sell at their very popular farmstand. Besides vegetables, sweet corn, and apples, they also have a pick-your-own blueberry patch and some sheep from which they sell lambs and fiber. While two hours isn't long enough to go into all of the knowledge necessary to run a successful small orchard, we went over the basics of pruning, grafting, variety selection, and marketing. The tour and talk was followed by a lovely (as usual) potluck. As the potluck was winding down, there was a hay delivery, and everyone jumped up to help stack the hay in the barn's hayloft. Dusty work, but it was many of the young farmers' first time even touching a fresh bale of hay and it was done in a fraction of the time it would have taken if we weren't there.

The rest of the week passed mostly like a normal week, and after Thursday morning's harvest was completed with some very far-off but menacing rumbles of thunder I jumped in the car for the five hour drive up to Burlington. The weather wasn't any better two hundred miles north, but it was good enough to walk from the hostel to a beer bar with a book! I spent Friday wandering around, browsing thrift stores, and generally people-watching. Saturday, I took a ferry across Lake Champlain to Essex, where I went on a farmers-only tour of Essex Farm (more on that in another post, I think). In the late afternoon, I drove up to Keeseville, where I had been a few months before at the Greenhorns solstice event in June. I met with some people I'm thinking about living with over the winter, then made it up to another ferry across the Lake and back down to Burlington just in time to fall into bed well past my bedtime. Sunday morning I went on a twenty-mile bike ride along the lakeshore and up to a land bridge/causeway in to the lake. Normally, there's a bike ferry that connects the causeway to an peninsula to the north, but the lake was too choppy to complete the fifty-foot crossing. The wind that I'd not even noticed pedaling north was quite a battle on the return trip. After one quick last shower in the hostel, I hit the road for a beautiful drive southward. On the way back, I stopped to scope out a forest farm where I was considering applying to for next season, which was worth the detour to cross it off my list. Overall, it was a great week and an even greater weekend!

Thinking about: winter possibilities, continuing education, intensity

Reading: Margery Fish's We Made a Garden, Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs

Eating: potlucks galore! farmers officially have the best potlucks! vermont cheese and beer!