A Carrot-astrophe

From August 9th, 2016

Yesterday, I saw some things that I will never be able to unsee and now I want to share it with you. Warning: skip this paragraph if you’re squeamish! While Ross and I were harvesting carrots for this week’s veggie boxes, I suddenly heard him take a sharp breath in and looked over to find him squeezing his hand and wincing in pain. While I’m still not sure how this happened, somehow a shard of carrot had lodged under his finger nail and it was now intensely bleeding. Always the professional, I faced away from Ross and tried to conceal that my entire being was shuddering with horror, and then promptly whirled back around to offer him a band-aid. Once everything was washed and patched up, Ross was left with a deep resentment towards carrots and a perma-thumbs up! (Don’t worry, the carrot in question was not added to this week’s bunches.) We both learned that carrots are not as innocuous as they try to make themselves out to be. When I asked Ross if he felt he now had a super power since he’d been injected with carrot, he told me that he was sure he did. And that superpower, my friends, is called beta carotene - his words, not mine.

This week I also took some time to gather and begin drying flowers that will be used in wreaths this fall and winter. I had to get a little creative with the drying process so I’ve hooked up a string of twine in my car so that the flowers can start drying while I finish my day.

The Busiest Week of them All

From August 2nd, 2016

Somehow another busy week has passed and I am still alive albeit incredibly tired. I am telling myself that I will rest in the winter as most animals do.

The farm has been jam packed with visitors and helpers this week! My friend Elena showed up on Thursday and went to work unburying chard and kale from overhead thistles. Jona showed up on Friday and revealed some rather prospering winter squash that I had planted in the spring, crossed my fingers, and then never checked on again. I was so happy and relieved to see they survived my negligence and they seem to have a very bright future ahead of them.

Yesterday, my sister Devon and buddy Ross showed up and lifted my tired spirits with their hilarious bantering. And that’s not all! They also harvested the beans, kale, zucchini, and squash blossoms for today’s box and prepped two new beds for me to plant! Thank you, thank you for everyone who has been contributing so much and making my life a million times easier.

Yet another exciting thing that happened this week was the Open House! Thank you so much to those of you who made it out. For folks who couldn’t make it, I’m hoping to host another one in the fall. Check out some great pictures that Devon de Leña captured below.

On Friday, a group of sixteen young people from a program called WILD (Wilderness Inner-city Leadership Development) trekked out to the farm from the International District. We talked about the food justice curriculum they’ve been learning this summer, they work they’ve been doing in the Danny Woo Community Garden, and how they have been measuring air pollution in the ID. I gave them a long tour of the farm, including a stop off at the river and the ripening blackberry bushes. After working in the hot sun for a brief stint, we decided to forego the rest of the day’s work plans and I sprayed them off with the hose instead.

From July 25th, 2016

Holy moly. We are really in it now! Great friends have really showed up for the farm right when I needed it. This past week, my buddies Jona and Ross made returns to the farm and swooped in to help just when I needed it most. Ross has been invaluable in helping me harvest for the veggie boxes on Mondays - green beans can be incredibly tedious or meditative, depending on your disposition. Jona came out to the farm in the drizzle on Friday and helped overhaul a huge part of the field to make way for new fall plantings. We regretted not taking a before and after picture but, let me tell you, it was SO satisfying!

I’ve also been getting some extra help from a friendly garter snake (see photo at right below) that camps out in the hoophouse and frightens me nearly every time I walk through to check on the tomatoes.

This past week I also got to be a clean person and put on a white shirt to go facilitate a workshop with Ross on Race, Class, and Gender in the Food System. The workshop was for eight young people of color who are interning for United Way of King County to put on their free summer meals program. They were so thoughtful and had some awesome ideas about how to create a more just food system, including “giving people more resources to pay for food, supporting working moms, and protesting!”

I’ve been enjoying the fullness of the farm lately. Flowers are blooming everywhere, bees are abuzz, some plants like broccoli are starting to reach their final flowering stage with the advent of the heat, and new summer crops are beginning to fill in.

From July 19th, 2016

The past week has felt like a transition period on the farm. I spent two full days cleaning up the veggie beds, weeding out tons of thistle, lamb’s quarter, and other volunteers to make more space for growing plants. Spring veggies like radishes and peas are going to seed and I will soon be removing them to make space for new fall plants. It’s odd in farming that you are almost always looking either forward or backward. In order to have fall veggies, you have to be ready to plant them in midsummer. But to get better at what you do each year, you have to also reflect back on what went well and what went poorly. Perhaps this is what leads to the feeling that I’m constantly either falling behind or catching up. In this time, many of the high summer plants like tomatoes, eggplants, and melons are starting to bear fruit. Their arrival, along with the cucumbers and beans, give me wild and slightly manic dreams about canning.

 The greenhouse. It’s currently home to fast-growing melons, okra, eggplant, and tomatoes.

The greenhouse. It’s currently home to fast-growing melons, okra, eggplant, and tomatoes.

 A tiny Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber baby. At full size, they’re a miniature replica of a watermelon.

A tiny Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber baby. At full size, they’re a miniature replica of a watermelon.

A Sense of Place

From July 15th, 2016

 Poem by Nayyirah Waheed

Poem by Nayyirah Waheed

The violence of this past week pressed deep into my heart and left me wondering what I’m doing to contribute to more justice and peace in this world, specifically for black folks. It’s often a struggle for me to articulate why I farm and I sometimes shy away from telling people the real reasons. In all honesty, it’s not to provide healthy veggies to people (although that is a perk). I farm to show people of color that we belong to this earth. Even beyond that, we have a right to thrive here and have agency and choice over what our environment looks like. It might seem like an existential concept but many people of color have their existence erased with such ease that it can sometimes feel inevitable. When I do this work, it is a daily act towards healing a culture that diminishes people of color’s experiences and replenishing it with one that deeply values our connection to earth and place. I know that this can be a complicated topic but I want to be contributing to engaging people in depthful conversations about how race impacts our day-to-day lives and what we can do to reach for justice. If you’re confused, have more questions, or are just interested in discussing this more, please get in touch!

A Bug's Eye View

From July 12th, 2016

I spent this past weekend away on the Oregon coast and returned to a completely different farm on Monday. Heavy rains and warm weather contributed to an unbelievable surge of growth in just a few days. Many of the areas that were neatly weeded are now a full grown jungle and walking through them feels reminiscent of the film “A Bug’s Life.” As frustrating and alarming as it can be, the sheer life force of the farm is awe-inspiring. I’ve been trying to plant beneficial plants like phacelia, buckwheat, and calendula between, within, and around the veggies to create pads for
beneficial insects, pollinators, and frogs. Those plants are now doing great but it can be a bit of a maze to navigate when harvesting. Still, I can’t think of a more humbling experience than going to an office each day that not only doesn’t require my presence but oftentimes prefers my absence.

Make up your mind, weather!

From Tuesday July 5th, 2016

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, we had a joke in our family that summer always started on July 5th. We always inevitably celebrated the 4th of July under heavy cloud cover or in the rain and would wake to the first sun of summer. Although today was similar, I can’t help but feel like summer has given way to spring this year. The early heat has waned and the cooler weather is making plants like peas and lettuce happy. Others, like tomatoes and peppers, are a bit more confused but growing nonetheless. These tomatoes on the right are a family heirloom from Ross Kirschenbaum, one of the great farm helpers. As a birthday present last year, Ross gifted me some tomato seeds that he’s and his ancestors have safeguarded for generations, and am so excited to watch them grow on the farm this season. With much luck, they will be a part of your Veggie Box in the near future.

This past week I was able to spend some time out gathering plants with my friend Reisha. Together we harvested plants like St. John’s Wort, Red Clover, and Self Heal while snacking on thimbleberries and salmonberries, chatting about our lives and what it would be like to have the farms of our dreams. It was a great chance to slow down and remember that the reason I do the work that I do is because plants are often a simple point of connection. They help me to better connect to myself and often to better connect and care for those that I love.

A New Season Begins...

For a farmer, winter is a time of reckoning. A time to be more internal, check in, and look over the past season's records, both literally and figuratively. As a deep introvert, this time is crucial for me. It's a time to let my body recover, reconnect to long-lost friends and projects, create some art, and yes, vacuum out my car. This winter has been especially important as time to regroup, find new land, and begin to develop the farm business that I dream of.

This season, I'll be expanding my Veggie Box (CSA) significantly while also diving into producing more herbal remedies and body care products later in the season. Herbal medicine has long been a significant part of my own healing and creative practices and I can't wait to share some of the plant allies that I turn to for good health.

I'll be posting more info throughout the Spring and Summer so stay tuned and check back often! In the meantime, I'll just be here with my spreadsheets, seed catalogs, and tea plugging away toward a new season...