The sowing has begun! Yesterday was a root crop day by the moon calendar so we sowed radishes in the hoophouse and filled trays for onions, scallions and shallots, which are all in the Allium family. Garlic is the fourth pillar of our allium production, planted in the fall and harvested at the beginning of summer. They are the gatekeepers to Flavor Country, necessary components to almost every meal that we make and a crucial part of our farm offerings to the meals of our community.
This last year was the first time we grew shallots, and they make an amazing addition to our production and our culinary efforts. Mama loved shallots, and like so many other things in life, the things she loved become more apparent in me as I age and gain knowledge of self.
Humans create traditions and methods for life, codifying in shared behavior the “how we do things” of living. This is true for patterns of interaction in family setting and true for how we interact with land. A farm is defined by the creation of these ways of being and practice, the intangible linkage between farmers and earth.
The bonds that we form are strong and necessary, creating boundary and structure from shared effort. This week was the first anniversary of Mama’s passing and with that marker on the path came a plethora of feeling and reflection. We carry on in her stead, reconfiguring the roles and traditions with her in mind. The anniversary of her passing was a glorious sunny day and we weeded and added compost to the growing garlic, holding her in our hearts and extending her forward into our lives. We gathered for dinner in celebration of her, holding close the sweet sadness.
Mama was a chef and she loved to cook. She loved to grow garlic and herbs because of their power to enhance the shared experience of meals. Part of her human expression of love and caring was in the deep role of nourishment provider. She took great joy from fostering family and community in gathering over food. In retrospect, her love of food was part of the guidance that lit the path into our journey as farmers.
Food is the foundation for life. It’s so obvious that we take it for granted and it almost doesn’t warrant saying, but there is a profound depth to the process of sustenance. Eating is ritual, a cornerstone of the practice of how we live. Too often we eat without thought, without recognition of the sacredness of the act.
The life-force energy that humans carry is sustained by eating, the turning of potential into actuality. As such, it should be the goal of human society to provide access to high quality food to all, fostering and stimulating the sum of shared life-force to create greater benefit for all. A world that focuses on producing the highest quality nourishment would have an inherent focus on the quality of the land and the ways that humans interact with it.
Our species has arrived at a crossroads; without a shift in focus from quantity to quality, our survival is in question. We need agricultural policies and land-use principles that rest on a foundation of mutualism with the land. More grazing of ruminants and less growing of corn-wheat-soybean to feed animals that weren’t meant to eat them. We need less production of bulk grains for processing into unhealthy foods and more focus on Food-As-Medicine. We need more tending and care; we need humans on the land.
As another season begins we take stock of ourselves, of the components of the farm and of this place we have the privilege of stewarding. We are excited to be stepping back into production and looking forward to returning to the farmers market and setting up the farmstand. This excitement is mixed with trepidation about the coming workload, a recognition that we have to do better to balance work and recharge so that we maintain quality of life.
Year-round production is hard to sustain because it cuts out the downtime of the winter cycle. It can be draining to carry the weight of preparation for the oncoming season along with the effort of the current one. The short days of winter help, darkness arriving to encourage us to go inside at a more reasonable hour than during the height of summer. We seek the natural rhythm of the season, of the land, of our human capabilities. As we refine our methods and traditions, we hone shared ability to thrive. Reflexivity is a necessary component of life for us all, stepping aside to look at the journey. As always, much love and great success to you on your path!
-HappyDay Farms, January 17th, 2020
Make sure to check out: happydayfarmscsa.com
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/