Farm School: Harvest

This month marked the end of farm school. It seemed as though we’d just put these plants in the soil on that surprisingly cold and windy May day, and now we were harvesting like mad from all that these plants had produced.

The mostly empty plot of land we’d started with looked robust. The starts had survived the unusually cold May and June and thrived in the late summer heat. I should have taken more pictures to illustrate just how different the field looked this month from when we started, but I took very few pictures. Instead I spent most of the day deep in the tomatoes.

The tomatoes grew up and over our trellises. Some of the vines were so weighed down with fruit that they splayed out onto the dirt, while other plants grew so tall that the vines brushed against my biceps as I walked down the rows. Something in the tomato leaves mixed with our sunscreen leaving our arms neon yellow by the end of the day.

As much as I love being walking through the tomato patch, picking tomatoes was harder worked than I’d expected. Since many of the ripe tomatoes were at the bottom of the plant, we work hunched over, rising occasionally to arch our backs and stretch before turning around and harvesting from the other side of the row. I was tempted to kneel next to the tomato plants but there were so many fallen tomatoes on the ground that I would have ended up with spaghetti sauce knees.

When we’d planted those 1,800 starts in May, I’d been able to sit in the field but now there was no room in the field to sit; the crops have taken over.

At the end of the day, we sat down to a meal made from all that we’d helped grow: roasted carrots, farro with lots of summer squash, a bowl of roasted potatoes and peppers,  a platter sliced tomatoes, babaganoush made from the eggplants.

It was all delicious but I had a hard time really enjoying the meal since it meant accepting that farm school was over. While these days in the field haven’t left me feeling like I’m trained to be a farmer, I do feel like it’s been a chance to look under the hood of farming, so to speak, and it’s given me a more realistic sense of what’s involved. Although I don’t feel compelled to move to the country and start farming full time, I also can’t bear the thought of not having a day on the farm to look forward to.

Can we come back and work on the farm? I asked the farmer toward the end of the meal.

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