The farm is in a production lull, summer crops starting to creep in and spring crops going by the wayside. This happens between each season, and it can be disconcerting from a marketing standpoint. I’m finding this season that there are deeper identity and self-worth ramifications that I need to unpack and work through.
Some of my feels are tied up in the capitalism productivity=value equation, but some of it settles around how much I’ve tied my role as a food producer in the community to my sense of well-being. Having crops underperform and not being able to plant fall beds has had an unexpected impact, creating unease and anxiety.
Thursday morning market harvest brought these emotions to a head for me, and I struggled with feelings of scarcity and gloom. I didn’t bring my best and highest self to the work and I offloaded negative energy on the people around me. Nevertheless, we made it through harvest/wash/pack and moved on to other tasks.
By lunchtime we had prepared two spaces in the hoophouses, which I had still factored in my water usage for the full season. One full bed for planting tokyo bekana for summer salad mix and the shoulders of an eggplant row for sowing salad turnips. As we were doing this work we realized that the cucumbers had begun producing, which I’d been expecting but didn’t think had occurred yet.
It was amazing to feel the funkies lift off my shoulders and the swing of my mental state back to positive and adaptable. The incoming cucumbers and the planting of food lifted my spirits, reminding me that though the broader work can seem monumental, the individual tasks are simple and well within my means.
Though there is great change and difficulty in the drought, I adapt and grow with the lessons. I change my practices and think about how best to do things in the seasons to come. I adjust my expectations and strive to be prepared to be more flexible. I try to avoid rigidity in my planning processes, and I try to remember to stay present and have faith in the moment at hand.
It is clear at the level of our farmscape, and at the broader community level, that we need more water storage. Private and public funding should pursue tanks, reservoirs, rain catchment, sumps, cisterns and any other microstorage options for holding winter rainfall to use during the dry summer months. The folly of the large-scale reservoir projects becomes more apparent, while the potential for small-scale impacts grows each day.
I visualize stored water to support a greening of the dry landscape, drip irrigation for deep-rooted perennial legumes, bunchgrasses and trees. I set intention for greater abundance, drawing strength from small victories to help overcome the trials and tribulations. I look at the new comfrey patches coming on and I see a future of contour planted alfalfa, comfrey, bunchgrass, borage and other species thriving.
In this vision I see landscape potentials engaged by human activity, supported by funding and actuated through human effort. I see water storage and green belts that cut down the risk of large fires. I see rotational animal management that makes use of the forage and fertilizes the land, building more biomass as each season passes.
Now is a time of unprecedented changes, and it requires unprecedented action. A societal mobilization of peace-time effort that strives towards abundance on a human-scale by using the resources of humanity. There is meaningful work in supporting landscapes by building decentralized storage and water distribution networks. These community-based solutions would build resilience over time for people and ecosystems.
Human effort created the changing climate, and human effort can shift the tide back. Nature trends towards increasing biomass and abundance, and human systems should do the same. When we slow the flow of water, we can spread it out and sink it into the earth, recharging groundwater.
Though it sometimes feels bleak, I have hope and faith that we can do better. That we have the skills and capacity for great change, for pulling together to support a cooler, wetter future. As always, much love and great success to you on your journey!
Casey O'Neill co-operates HappyDay Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises two acres of Sun+Earth and DEMPure Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. Casey is stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers and works to support Mendocino County policy-makers in crafting sensible regulations. Casey also serves on the board of Sun+Earth Certified. You can find his radio show podcast at HappyDay Farms - Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or Soundcloud. You can also find out more about HappyDay Farms here: http://www.happydayfarmscsa.com, on Instagram @happydayfarms and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/casey.oneill.395/ or https://www.facebook.com/happydayfarmscsa/