Jesse


This is it, the last weekly blog post as your farmer. My head and heart are swirling with emotion, which will likely continue to unfold for months and years to come.

The 2018 Crew. Kneeling: Ryna, Sophon, Jonnah, Standing: Sid, Jesse, Barb, Eric, Abby, David , Ning, Yun.

We didn’t do this on our own! We had the idea and initiative, but it takes a whole community! Thank You to our CSA community for the support you have provided for 24 years. A very special Thank You to those of you who have been with us for all or most of these 24 years. You had the confidence in us and in the concept. You hung in there with us as we figured it out, made mistakes, went through growing pains and in turn we used your feedback to direct change and make improvements.

Thank You to our worker shares! Hundreds of you have given your time to join us in the fields and packing shed as we tackled every hot, cold, dirty, sweaty, repetitive task. You gave it your all, you were valuable crew to the farm and we got to know each other. This farm’s labor force was built on the Worker Share program.

Thank You to our site hosts! You have very generously opened your homes and have been an integral part of this movement. You have shown patience and humor and persevered as you made phone calls, helped families and went out of your way to make sure everyone got what they needed. Particular thanks to Joe Schmitt, in addition to being a site host for 24 years, he was instrumental in helping launch the farm with his wealth of growing knowledge.

Thank You to the Cambodian crew who has been with us for 15 years! You have been the consistent work force on this farm. We value your dedication to our farm and our family. You made us feel part of the Cambodian community in Dane County.

But most of all, THANK YOU TO OUR CHILDREN. How could we ever have imagined when we started this farm, when you were in grade school and middle school, that you, along with us, would become the backbone of this CSA? We had the crazy idea to move you from your comfortable east side neighborhood to a farm! We worked day and night and weekends and felt as if we had precious little time to spend with you. But in return, you embraced what we were doing and decided to do it with us! Jesse, thank you for your proficiency with equipment and field techniques as you worked with your dad and most recently amazing crew leadership as you worked along with your mom. Thanks for carrying on the seed potato business. Eric, thank you for your attention to detail and packing shed processes which have allowed deliveries to go out smoothly week after week. Becky, thank you for the delicious and nutritious lunches you prepared for the crews and your time spent in the packing shed. Jonnah, thank you for taking over the office duties, communicating so well with members and taking our farm into the age of computers. Thanks to each of you for spending hours brainstorming and discussing ideas and concepts to move this farm forward. I know it has not always been easy working day after day with family, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

With heartfelt joy and gratitude,

Barb and David

We did it on Tuesday! The prediction was for rain in the afternoon, at about 3:00 pm, and we put a lot of faith in the 100% prediction. The fields are getting quite saturated and not drying off between rains. David had to finish the potato harvest. There were potatoes in two fields. Monday was a failed attempt with both fields, just too darn wet, the machine that digs the potatoes is not meant to deal with heavy, wet soil. Tuesday morning was going to have to be it. David in one tractor pulling the potato harvest machine, Jesse in another tractor pulling the wagon and four people riding the harvest machine to pull those clumps of dirt and grass out of the rollers so only the potatoes would be conveyed up into the wagon. As they were harvesting the potatoes, five of us were in the same field bringing in the kale. Both jobs done before lunch!

Now let’s head across the valley and bring in the winter squash and pie pumpkins, and get it done before the rain. Several bins filled before lunch. A much needed one hour break then all hands on to clip, pick up and count them into bulk bins before that 3:00 rain deadline. We were working in the valley with an amazing view to the west where the storm clouds were mounting and moving our way. As a bin filled Eric hauled it by tractor to the shed. At 2:30 it began to rain, a nice gentle rain which felt good to our warm bodies. Almost done, and at 3:00 the sky opened and began to pour! The last bin was filled, we all ran and climbed into the back of the pickup truck for a wet ride back. Soaked to the skin and happy to return to the packing shed, we spent the next two hours washing squash. Eric, in full rain gear, drove back and forth with heaping bins.

This afternoon everyone is out harvesting sweet potatoes to get ahead of the next rain.

~Barb

Watching the potato harvest go by as we harvest kale.

Bins of Carnival squash. Jesse uses the skid steer to move bins around the field .

Here come the storm clouds as we harvest winter squash.

Kale harvest, notice the mosquito net Sophon is wearing!

Today Barb celebrated her 60th birthday by waking up at 4:30am to organize the weekly pack. She is taking the afternoon off to relax and go swimming. Twenty-three years ago, August 1st, 1994, our family moved to the farm that became Vermont Valley Community Farm. Barb celebrated her 37th birthday a week after moving to the farm and the next spring began growing vegetables for the CSA’s first season. The 37th birthday is meaningful to me since I am about to turn 37 this winter. For the past 23 years Barb and David have made Vermont Valley what it is today. If you see Barb, join me in wishing her a Happy Birthday.

Jesse

Barb and David dancing on the farm during a Farm-to-Table brunch. Photo: Stick People Productions and photographer Kelly Doering