Hello everyone. Mark here, Uncle Vern’s brother covering the newsletter this week while he scouts out new tree fruit varieties in France. If a guy has to go abroad to try to improve things at home, France is a fantastic place to have to go, and southern France no less, wow. If you haven’t been I highly recommend it just for the food alone. The French know how to eat. As I write this I can imagine Vernon and Carol oooing and aaahing over their lunch. Carol wondering about how to cook it, and Vernon thinking about how to grow it.
Let’s talk about some observations on the farm. Of the hundreds I have been on there is one common denominator among them all: resourcefulness. Farmers get things done and they use whatever they have laying around to do it with. Peach bins (like raspberry barrels in the Northwest) will become floats on pond pumps and stands to keep equipment off the wet ground, hold feed, parts, supplies, trash, and things you can’t bring yourself to throw away because the moment you do, you’ll need them again. I have seen zip-ties, and big plastic berry bags used in about every capacity you can think of from repairing machinery to holding last year’s Christmas ornaments. Ranchers and dairymen have orange hay bailing twine everywhere. It’s holding up panels, gates, water pumps, doors, and plumbing. I’m half surprised they don’t build a barn out of it.
Farms hold fleets of almost retired trucks. You’ll know them when you see them, they’re often 50 plus year old rusty flatbeds that have Ag exempt license plates and are barely roadworthy. Great-granddad bought it new and now it’s only used at the peak of harvest, and only briefly, but it’s still running, it’s part of the family.
It’s pretty rare to see the exact right piece of equipment for the job on the farm. It’s usually close, but not the best because the farmer needs to use that same tractor for 15 other things: pumping, discing, fertilizing, plowing, planting, spraying, towing, tilling, raking, bailing, scraping out, and harvesting. Every farmer I know is real good at something, and pretty good at everything else. But what they all have in common is that they get done whatever needs doing with whatever they have. Buying a new (used is much more common) piece of equipment is far from spontaneous. A lot of thought is put into each purchase, as it becomes part of system of equipment that helps bring food to the table, theirs, and ours.
About food on the table: In our home we are partial to the summer fruit and regularly order that extra box as an add-on each week. Lately it’s been the grapes and last week the pears, a sure sign that fall is nearly upon us. As much as we love summer, we’re ready for a change in season and all that comes with it. The fire, football, apple pie, fresh squeezed orange juice, and my wife’s fabulous cauliflower soup. Can’t wait.
My wife Diane and I are the hosts up in Redding and Tuesday (our drop day) is a happy day as we love getting our box each week and the community that comes with it. Drop day is great, we show up in an empty parking lot a little early, prepare a little, then like magic, 100 plus families show up to collect their box of life-giving happiness. They trade eggs, milk, and vegetables from their garden. They catch up, hang out, laugh, hug, and their kids play close to mom’s side.
The diversity among those picking up a box is rich. There are many homeschooling moms, and professionals of every kind. There is at least one doctor, and one lawyer I know of, and one FBI agent who feeds her extra lettuce to her rabbit. From builders to techies, from musicians to businessmen and women of every stripe, it’s a beautiful group of people. One woman is even the produce manager of a large grocery chain. She drives across town every Tuesday because as she says, “It’s the best and I don’t really want to eat anything else.” Love it.
Your favorite farmer Uncle Vern will be back from France later this week, I’m certain with glorious stories of fabulous food he plans to bring home to us. So until then all you brilliant AHO subscribers: Bon appétit!!!