Green and Blue

I’ve had a lot going on in the past few weeks and so, although my body has been at the farm, my mind and heart have been a million miles away. However, this week I finally feel like they have come back to me.

It’s been a beautiful week and I have regained the appreciation I had at the beginning of the summer. I recently posted pictures on Facebook (it takes forever to upload them to the blog) of the summer so far and I feel so lucky to have green trees and blue skies as my office. Even when the skies are grey and the rain is falling down on us, it is still so peaceful. Even though we are busy harvesting, and don’t have much time to spare, every now and then I take a moment to simply take in my surroundings and be thankful.

We are now harvesting 3 times a week in comparison to 2. We used to only harvest on Wednesday and Friday, but we have begun harvesting on Tuesdays as well, in order to get everything done for the CSA pick up on time. We have been harvesting carrots, beet, potatoes and beans for a while now. But just those 4 items take us a whole day to harvest. The rest of the harvest (cucumbers, zucchinis, onions, lettuce mix and herbs etc) we do Wednesday, as well as washing and bagging.

Unfortunately there will be no tomatoes for our CSA or market this summer because they have caught blight! It is a soil borne disease which has affected other farmers as well. It’s very sad. We all mourn the loss of our tomatoes, but we have been able to rescue a few cherry tomatoes that taste absolutely delicious. Not only is it a huge crop, people love it and it sells well, but it is also a crop that we put a lot of effort into, especially Johnny. We trellised our tomatoes and therefore had to stake into the ground over 200 6 ft stakes. Us girls hammered in about 3 stakes each, but Johnny did the rest. It was tough work. But alas, shit happens (as they say) and you just have to roll with the punches. And so we continue on.

Now that my heads back in the game, I have become very excited about my plans for the future. I have been meaning to mention them for awhile but I always babble on about something else and therefore don’t get around to it. So here it is.

People keep asking me what I’m going to do after the farm. As much as things are always up in the air with me, here’s what I plan on doing.

First: come back and get a job. Either with Equiterre, Lufa Farms or an organic grocery store in Montreal (or any other job related to food and the environment really). I am simply looking for something that will pay the bills and give me time to continue learning about growing food, especially in the urban and suburban setting. I want to read up on backyard gardening (smaller scale than market gardening), hyroponics, aquaponics, growing indoors and making the most of a small space.

Once I get a job nailed down I will be able to move out and really get to experience “city living” for the first time in my life. I plan on making friends with my neighbours by giving them food or inviting them over for dinner. I hope to become part of the community, wherever I am, and take part in a community garden.

My big goal however is to use the piece of land beside our neighbours house in Two-Mountains to build a decent sized garden. I figure I’ll have about 100+ square meters to work with. I hope to be able to provide enough fresh veg for 2 families for the whole summer as well as have extra for storage and canning. And if there’s even more than I’ll be giving it away to whoever wants.

If all goes well and I am confident in my abilities then I look forward to starting up gardens for others as well. Every book I’ve read about gardening emphasizes how important the start up is. Planning and design are key. It just so happens that I love to plan things. I think I spent more time planning and organizing when I was going to do my homework in university than actually doing my homework.

So far I have figured out which fruits and vegetables I would like to grow and about how much of everything I would like to have. With that knowledge, as well as how much space each plant takes up, I can start juggling things around in order to determine how I am going to lay things out.

But yes, I hope that after a summer of gardening on my own I will have gained the confidence to help others start their own indoor and/or outdoor gardens. I could in the future have a larger operation and sell healthy organic food to others, but what I would like even more is to teach others how to grow healthy organic food themselves and we can all become self sufficient together (and live happily ever after).

THE END.

🙂

In Loving Memory

So it seems that this has now become a biweekly blog. Sorry to all those who check in weekly for some SaraTalk.

It’s been a busy and tough month I tell ya. Being one man down on the farm we are getting up a bit earlier, working a little later, but such is the life of a farmer. You make do, and simply don’t get around to doing some things. There is a never ending list of things to do, and you just have to figure out what your priorities are.

Farm life has actually been a breeze in comparison to my social life. I missed most of last week so that I could come home to be with friends and family after the loss of a loved one. And so I would like to take the time to pay tribute to Brenda, a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend and confidant.

I actually began writing this blog yesterday but feel it would have been a very sad blog. And so I am happy I waited and am rewriting it today with a different tone.

With every loss there is a gain, and with every gain there is a loss. There is no bad without good, and no good without bad. I believe it is important to be aware of both, but even more important to choose to focus on the good.

Brenda was (and is) a wonderful, amazing and inspiring person. It amazes me how caring and loving she was. She has touched so many people with her love and taught people how important it is to love others. I can only hope to be as caring and loving as she.

Brenda had the ability to make everyone around her feel special and important. She has taught me so much and I will forever be grateful for that. As I continue forward, every decision I make and action I take will have been influenced in some way by her. And so although she may be gone in the physical sense, she will forever be with me, and with us.

I feel that as our society has become more individualistic, we have become somewhat disconnected from our neighbours, our friends and our family. Many of us (I very much include myself in this) are rushing around following our dreams, doing what we want to do when we want to do it. And as much as this is important, and there is no right or wrong way to live one’s life, it is also important to take the time to care and be compassionate to all those around us. And especially important to nurture the relationships in our lives that matter to us.

I have begun to realize the importance of surrounding myself with people who truly care for me, and for whom I truly care. We sometimes spread ourselves too thin and find ourselves rushing around trying to make plans and see all of our friends and loved ones. I’ve always been one to say “the more the merrier” but there needs to be, as usual, a balance. For sometimes, when we try to do too much, we ultimately end up having less of ourselves to give to each individual. We have less energy, less time. We cannot be everywhere at once, and we cannot be everyone’s best friend and confidant. No one relationship will be the same and I believe it is important to surround yourself with people who make you feel special, who make you laugh, who inspire you and motivate you. People with whom you can sometimes sit in silence, and other times have meaningful conversations.

I’ve also realized that I enjoy spending one on one time with my friends and family. It is wonderful to be able to see lots of friends and family all at once, but in these instances we tend to have shorter, superficial conversations (small talk) and do not get to connect with one another as we would in a more private setting.

And so, although it’s been a pretty shitty week (I’m not going to lie), I realize that I have learnt a lot and grown as a person because of it. They say “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and it is very true. I feel like I have lost some very important people from my life recently, but even though they may no longer be physically by my side, they will always be with me for they have each made me a better person and I am so lucky to have known them.

Life can’t be roses and balloons all the time. Although I do work at being happy and choose to be happy, happiness is always something that has come pretty easy to me, and I’m very thankful for that. But I am human, and I can’t always be smiles. It’s normal to sometimes feel sad, mad, sorrow or guilt but what’s important is to not let these feelings overtake you and bring you down. There would be no happiness, without some type of opposite, and it is part of life to feel all these emotions, but more important to keep moving, keep your head up and have faith (whatever you choose to have faith in).

Although it has been hard to keep moving this week, I know I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other (for soon I’ll be walking out the doo-o-or). If not for myself, then for Brenda because I know she wants the best for all of us and she would want us to follow our dreams and live our life to the fullest.

So Cheers to you Brenda, for being so amazing and for inspiring us all!

I thank you from the bottom of my heart,

All my love,

Sara

A busy two weeks!

So sorry I didn’t get around to blogging last week. This is now blog #14 but it will be covering week #14 and #15 seeing as I didn’t get around to blogging last week. Which means that I will be going into week #16 on the farm, or in other words month 5! In a sense time has flown by, but over the years I have begun to learn how to enjoy each day and each moment. Therefore I do feel as if I have learned a lot over these past 4 months and I also feel as if I have done a lot.

Time has a tendency to fly by when we are doing the same routine over and over, living for the weekend, and planning our weekends ahead of time. When our surroundings don’t change, and our life doesn’t change, it’s easy to feel like 5 years ago was just yesterday. I remember talking about this with my best friend Tina a few years back. Whereas I lived at home during University, worked at the same job and had the same routine and therefore felt like 3 years had flown by, she on the other hand, had changed jobs a few times, had moved out, had several different roommates and had continued to travel and therefore felt like 3 years ago really was 3 years ago.

It’s hard to live in the present when we are always thinking about and planning our future. And I do believe it is important to have goals, and to work towards those goals. But I have been learning, and very recently been forced, to not think about the future. Not idealize about how we would like our future to be, or wonder what might happen. And when we are able to do this, we are able to let go of what we think we want, and are more likely to be in touch with our heart and our gut and go with the flow.

The one thing many people don’t cope well with is change. We all have preconceived ideas about what is going to happen, and when things don’t go our way, that is when we feel upset or let down. However, if we let go of our ideas of the future, you are more likely to be grateful for the moments you have and more accepting of your present situation.

Oh boy, I have just realized that my blog entry has turned into a journal entry and I apologize. I could easily not include this, or rewrite something but I had hoped for my blog to be more than just a recount of my actions, and I do like to share my thoughts and help inspire or provoke thoughts among others as well. And so it stays. I hope you enjoyed. I would actually like to continue such ramblings in the future. But perhaps I will make a rambling page, so that when you want to hear them you can, and when you just want to read about my farm experience you can do that without having to endure such ramblings.

So, about the farm. Bad news first I guess. We are now only 2 interns for the moment. Chloe, our fellow intern and good friend is no longer with us, although she will be coming to visit whenever she can. We all came to Luxy to figure out if “CSA/Market” gardening was something we seriously wanted to pursue in the future. I believe this experience has confirmed for all of us, that yes, we want to be sustainable and grow our own food, but we have also learnt that there are perhaps other ways to do this besides market gardening. “Market” gardening, implies that you will be selling your produce to make money. Jean Martin Fortier’s book about market gardening states right at the beginning, that we should remember that market gardening is a business, one in which the goal is to make money. Make money in an environmentally friendly way, but make money nonetheless. And as idealistic as I can be sometimes, I am aware that there are few places in the world in which money does not come into play. Practically no matter where you are in the world, you will be paying taxes of some sort or another, even if it is just property taxes. And therefore attempting to make money is not a bad thing.

All this to say that I believe the 3 of us have realized that, at least for the moment, we would like to start small. And simply grow food for ourselves and our family. The market gardening lifestyle was simply not the right fit for Chloe and I am happy to know that she followed her heart and was true to herself. We all miss her (you become like family when you work and live together for 3+ months) but we all wish her the very best.

And so Rebecca and I… and Johnny…and Daizy all worked a bit harder this week to make up for the lack of hands, but we got everything done and did it with smiles on to boot. We started our day at 6AM on Wednesday in order to ensure the CSA members got their food on time, but we were rewarded with a late start (9AM) on the Thursday. It felt so good to sleep in. Thank you Johnny!

We also started harvesting our beds of garlic last week, as they are now mature and if we leave them in the ground too much longer, they will start to shrivel/disintegrate/die. And so it is important to get them out as quickly as possible while they still have multiple layers on which will allow them to stay better longer once we have cured (dried) them for storage. So on Saturday, for 8 hours, we forked garlic out of the ground and cleaned it in order to hang it up to dry the following Tuesday.

So, as I said, we were busy this past week, but I was able to look forward to some vacation time with my family. My little cousin is visiting from Saskatchewan and will be joining my parents and I this weekend at our cottage up north, with my aunt, uncle and my other adorable cousin.

I am actually writing this blog as I sit in the living room of my cottage, with my mom asleep on the chair beside me (what a surprise), my dogs asleep on my parents bed (another surprise), and my father at a soccer game (because I have rarely known him to miss any sporting events). And so it is quiet, peacefully quiet. It is wonderful.

I am so lucky that my grandparents own a cottage which I can escape to when needed. Many of my friends who have come up here, are in awe of how relaxing it is. It’s a tiny little shack, which thanks to my uncle is still standing, with a new roof and bathroom, but it is its small size that makes it so quaint and peaceful. There is no cell phone reception for about 30 mins in any direction and so when you come up here, life slows down. No one wears a watch. No one wakes up to an alarm. You eat when you are hungry, you sleep when you are tired. I love it.

And so I end this blog on a happy note. As usual I believe. I’m not one to be a Debbie Downer. Life is too short to choose to stay mad or sad. It’s impossible to be happy all the time, but to choose to be happy is a decision we are all faced with everyday. And the more we practice being happy, the easier it becomes. Here I go on a ramble again. So I will end this blog, as I said I would.

I am going to go look at the moon. Perhaps I will meditate. And then I will read up some more on vegetable gardening. I am all excited about planning and designing a vegetable garden next summer in my neighbours lot. But I will save all those thoughts and ideas for another blog.

I wish you all a very Good night!

(I did write this blog on Sunday, but as I have no internet access at my cottage, it is getting posted today)