Rebecca and I rode up to our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm last Saturday to help out a little. I love that we can get great quality organic produce picked the same day at prices that are at or below the supermarket. The idea is that we share the risk and reward with the local farmer - if it's a good season, we're all happy, if it's tough season, then the farmer is guaranteed income anyway. There's also the invaluable benefit of supporting a good hardworking local farmer too.
The idea of a CSA is that the community also comes out to the farm during the season to help out with the farm work. This serves several functions: it helps build the relationship with the farmer, it helps lower labor costs, and it helps us appreciate and be mindful of all the work going into putting food on our table.
Anyway, as I was saying, Rebecca and I went out Friday to help out. The job of the day was bean planting. It's amazing to me how much more thought and science goes into organic farming. I mean, with a chemical enhanced farm, you could just throw some seeds in the ground and compensate for soil quality by spraying. With organic farming, it's critical to factor in how you might inject nutrients into all phases of the growing cycle. With our beans for example, prior to putting them in the ground, we had to coat them with a thick sticky syrup (Yucca extract, I think) that will allow them to produce their own nitrogen and ultimately lead to a more productive crop. Of course, the downside is that it makes planting slow and difficult - imagine molasses covered seeds.
Farmer Allen has a cow down right now too. During the birthing process, it pinched a nerve causing its hind legs to be temporarily paralyzed. He thinks they're no longer paralyzed and that it's just afraid to try now so in the meantime, he's having to flip the cow over a couple times a day and give it physical therapy. We walked over to the pasture to help flip it over too. First time either of us has been cow-flipping.
All and all, it was an interesting experience. Now that we know what to expect, I'm hoping we can get out there with the kids a few times this season too. Rebecca and I were also hot after working for a few hours and needed a way to cool down. The farm is enticingly close to the Shenandoah River, so we found a tube rental place and took a couple hour lazy float down the river. It was a nice compensation for our earlier farm work:)