A Day in the Farm
My alarm sounds at 7am. I roll out of bed, get dressed, throw some granola and yogurt together, hop on my bike, and ride down the lakeshore path along Lake Mendota when the air is still brisk and I’m kind of wishing I was wearing a flannel over my t-shirt. I make it to the farm right around 8 o’clock. First things first, I look around to see how things are growing and make a mental checklist of tasks to do. The lettuce is looking great. The spinach bed needs a fierce weeding. The melon mounds could use some too. What is that bug eating the potatoes? How are we going to trellis the cucumbers? I should turn the compost today. Nah, let’s wait until we have a crew of volunteers for that one.
There is always so much to do. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but the simple truth is that the only way things get done is one task at a time. Pick the highest priority and do a good job, then move on to the next. Today I decided to start by caring for the potatoes as Paul (my co-director) is weeding the radishes not far away. I go through the rows, methodically plucking the flower buds and squishing the beetles eating the plant. Then I grab a hoe and mound the soil around them a little higher. The sun is getting hotter. Water break.
We both leave to wait out the worst of the afternoon sun and refuel before returning to the farm to lead a group of interns for an evening workday. I return around 4pm and grab the necessary tools. I set the pitchforks by the compost pile and get to work weeding while waiting for our volunteers to arrive. They show up around 5pm and jump into the work. Farm labor is made easier by friendly faces that are delighted to be outside and eager to chat with us and each other, who, by midsummer, have become good friends. After about two hours of work, we put the tools away and call it a day. However, no one is too quick to leave. We crack jokes and cold cans of soda until the sun dips below the trees and enjoy the feeling of fulfillment that comes with doing good work with good people.