Harvesting vegetables for well over 300 members sounds simple written in a sentence. But after two weeks, a second set of knee caps begin to grow directly underneath the set given at birth. Some vegetables are best harvested on the knees while others are easiest and quickest on the feet with a bend in the back. Thank goodness that is the case because as soon as the knees need a break the back can be used and vice versa. I have to say it was a nice switch up from the usual pain that flares up in the wrists after using vibrational hand equipment all day, such as weed wackers and gasoline hedge trimmers, as is the case at my landscaping job.
Landscaping, a good rain will stop the work day. Farming, it means you’re soaked, muddy, and still working. I spent ninety bucks on some lightweight Columbia rain gear which saved my ass numerous times. But working on an organic farm means the weeds grow too. Hip-high pigweeds drenched in morning dew between the rows of vegetables means one thing – I, too, am drenched in dew up to my hips. Going from dry and comfortable to soaking wet and often chilly at 6 a.m. becomes the hardest part of the day. Once my pants become glued to my thighs with excess moisture and it saturates my socks and wets my toes, the rest of the day is a breeze. There is nothing left to fear.
If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. Somehow I was closer to nature and at moments I could feel time dematerialize and a joy-filled breeze of oneness consume everything that exists. Sometimes I even felt like a tribal aborigine, an Amish Christian, or a poor farmer in a third-world country – always hungry, working, and dirty. (I guess that happens in America too.)
I was also offered the golden opportunity to drive the old, yellow DHL truck-converted-to-CSA-mobile to Lancaster, Pennsylvania several times. Entering the richest Amish farming lands on this entire planet was like entering a portal where veils are lifted and on the other end was either heaven on earth or the inside of an old time children’s book brought to life with color and 3D animated pop-ups. Long farm roads with horses and buggies and Amish men on bicycles with coolers attached, older kids rollerblading as they carry their shoes in one hand, boys being initiated into manhood as they stand young, proud, and tall disking the field behind an army of horses, with off-the-grid farm houses periodically placed where the road meets the fields, each one with a front-yard kitchen garden maintained by the women who are watching their children as they play in the grass under the tree next to the clothes drying on the clothesline. Horse and cow manure dominate the nostrils yet lift the spirits and why is the grass so green, the sky so blue, and I can’t tell if I’m dreaming or not every time I enter Lancaster?
Other than the sheer beauty of organic farming in Pennsylvania, I have to be honest and say the pay was okay. In comparison to landscaping it was almost up there but there’s no such thing as time-and-a-half after 40 hours when working in the agricultural industry. There are 50 hour weeks waiting to be worked, just like landscaping, but I found it mentally difficult to motivate the body to work 50 hour weeks repetitively without the financial incentives. Fifty hours in, I’m usually not too fun to be around anyways, but I bet it pays off in the afterlife. I lasted the entire 22-week CSA season without calling off once or being (too) late. And who knows, I may do it again next year.
Despite the long hours spent harvesting organic vegetables 25 miles away from my home, the home garden managed to thrive. Minimal energy was placed into the garden once all the planting was finished in June. We had mass harvests of carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, dried beans, and beet berries and minute harvests of many other things. Unfortunately, I will not be able to go into greater detail at this moment and you will just be forced to tune back in soon. Until then, I’m exhaling deeply and saying, “Wow, what a season” as the images of the past 5 months mesmerize my brain.
Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures.