Getting Started on the Farm
A day in the life of a CSA share holder . . . by guest blogger Gina Sampaio:
Once I decided that our family needed to buy a share in a local CSA, I needed to decide where. There were two local ones that I knew of offhand: one that a few of my husband’s siblings belong to and another that my friend belongs to and that my father (local nurseryman) had helped out when it was first getting off the ground.
I chose the latter based on the shares offered: a pay share ($550 for weekly produce from May-November) or a work share ($200 and 3 hours a week of working on the farm). I’m not afraid of a little hard work and looked forward to learning the tricks of the organic farming trade that went beyond pouring ammonia around my garden. So I downloaded my membership form and sent the money in to the Asbury Natural Farm.
Three hours a week of working on the farm didn’t seem like a lot of time: especially not when you consider that for that and $200 I’d be getting six months of locally grown organic vegetables. It’s actually quite a bargain. But what I’ve failed to mention thus far is that I have four children aged 1, 3, 7, and 8. My biggest concern was that three hours a week would feel impossible. The people at the farm suggested trying to choose a set day to come work every week; seems that having it as a predictable part of one’s weekly schedule makes it easier to commit to. Also my husband’s assurances that we could do it (and our mutual desire to save an additional $350) led me to believe we could.
So far I’ve worked two weeks at the farm. I don’t have a set day yet as with my older kids still in school and my littler ones still registered for tumbling classes at the YMCA, our schedule is different now than it will be over the summer. So for now I’m getting in an hour here, an hour there and making it work. I’m hoping that when the kids are on summer vacation I can pick a day and stick to it. I will either drop them off with one of my family members (and share some of the farm’s bounty with them as thanks) or wait until my husband is home from work to go. We can also go together on the weekend sometime and with the both of us working at the same time we can log hours faster (1 hour of us both working is equivalent to 2 hours of me working alone).
It’s still early in the year and there hasn’t been too much for me to do yet, so I’ve completed six hours of intense weeding. Here are some tips I’ve picked up so far:
1. If I bring the children, I also need to bring more snacks. I brought them one time and they were very interested in the farm animals but only for so long. More snacks and books would have helped them stay occupied for a longer period of time.
2. Always remember my gardening gloves! I’m so glad I asked for and received new ones for my birthday this year (thanks Mom!) I’ve been weeding lots of thorny thistle and my hands would really be hurting without the gloves.
3. Wear long sleeves and pants for more intense thistle weeding: my hands were protected but my legs and arms began to get red and irritated from the prickly plants.
4. Bring water to drink.
5. Squat to weed so I can feel justified as counting weeding as equivalent to my gym workout.
6. Pack the camera! There is so much beauty in plow horses tilling a field, a red barn in the late day sun, a small green berry growing on a strawberry plant.
7. Remember headphones. I always have my iPod in the car so I could have been listening to music but for the lack of headphones. Two hours of weeding gets a little boring.
8. Sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray…maybe I should keep these in the car so I’m never caught without them.
9. Try new things! I’ll admit I gave almost my entire share of last week’s radish harvest to my sister because I don’t like radishes (but I haven’t tried them since I was a kid.) Part of the reason I joined the CSA was so that I’d have the opportunity to try new vegetables the best way possible: ones that I helped to grow, that are local, fresh and organic. I think I’ll go try a radish.