Autumn Winds

-Erika Rumbley

When we talk about farming, we mostly talk about working with plants. Seeding in cozy greenhouses, planting in the glorious sunshine and harvesting at sunrise. Part of the wonder of farming is finding attunement with the natural cycles that make our fields sing. But the big secret is that much of farming isn’t about plants at all, it’s about people. Especially at a farm of our scale, everything we do depends on people working together. It’s more about togetherness than solitude.

As chilly autumn winds move in, I’m grateful for the positive, collaborative, diligent and joyful workplace we’re building at Langwater. In my role, I’m often teaching the field crew new skills or coordinating big projects to make sure we’re moving forward efficiently. It is a privilege to share the complex, beautiful world of the farm with others, and I particularly appreciate sharing this world with people who are farming for their first season. Season one is a tough endeavor, exacting a physical toll while demanding focus, positivity and mental flexibility. In your first season it is easy to fear that an uncomfortable task will never end. The liberating truth is that everything changes, especially in the world of the farm where routines are built and rebuilt every few weeks as the weather shifts. This season, in the midst of long afternoons of repetitive work (weeding beets or harvesting potatoes or…) several field crew members opened up about the transformations they’ve found in season one. Here are their words, just as I scrawled them down in my field notebook:

 I never knew that I could enjoy going to work until I came to Langwater.

No matter how difficult the day is, when it ends I know that we have accomplished something. We have something to show for ourselves, and it feels good. Every day here is a good day.

It’s like camp. We’re all in this together. We know what we’re working towards and we’re having fun out here. I love the noises and singing and wildness.

I love harvesting the brassicas at Wheaton. It is so calm over there, like you’re in another world.

At first it was hard to tell who’s in charge here because everyone is so nice and everyone works together. I wish that I had discovered agriculture earlier.

We eat like kings! This place is awesome. Everybody gets it here. I have finally found my people.

Working here changed everything that I understand about food and everything that I see in what I eat. I’ll never eat the same way again.

Farm Olympics

-Erika Rumbley

As farmers, we’re perennially balancing the past, present and future. Each day we watch the results of our actions unfold and make mental notes of adjustments for next season. This August, this means watching our plants come-of-age with plenty of heat and little rain. Many of you have been asking, ‘How’s the drought?’

The truth is that drought has its benefits:
·      Dry weather is excellent for weeding and our crew has kept morale astoundingly high as they hoe up and down rows all across the farm.
·      Looks like we’re growing our best tomato crop yet! Gorgeous red slicers, sweet cherries and delicious, quirky heirlooms are staking out more and more real estate in the farm stand these days.
·      Popular wisdom tells us that melons grown in dry conditions are small and sweet. After cracking open a few delicious cantaloupe in the beds of farm trucks this week, I can attest!
·      Jim gets even more of a work-out than usual hauling irrigation supplies from field to field!
We’re doing our best to build resilient farm systems at Langwater. These ‘stressful’ bouts are what we’ve been training for! Welcome to the ‘Farm Olympics’, folks! By stewarding soil rich in organic matter (from our own compost and a blend of cover crops), rotating our crops, growing healthy seedlings and training a strong crew, we’ve been working towards these hot, bountiful days of August. Wish us luck as we compete & haul in all those tomatoes. Enjoy those tomato sandwiches…

Longest Days, Shifting Landscapes

-Erika Rumbley

The Langwater landscape is shifting as we enjoy the longest days of the year. Until recently, the farm was a patchwork of tall, lush cover crops- grasses and legumes that farmers plant to cover and build soil between plantings. At Langwater, we work extra hard to incorporate cover crops into our crop rotations because we take soil stewardship seriously. The benefits are huge! Here’s a couple: preventing erosion, providing habitat for pollinators, increasing organic matter. Some cover crops even draw nutrients and micro-nutrients up from the deep. Powerful plants!

Spring was a magnificent procession from the deep green of rye and winter wheat into the wild, lavender masses of vetch. Before cover crops produce viable seed, they are mowed, chopped and incorporated into the soil to make way for the next planting. Right now, this shift is in full swing as we transplant the last rounds of summer crops <pepper, eggplant, melon> and the first fall seedlings <Brussels sprouts!>

As we enjoy these long, sunny days, we’re hustling out in the field to keep up. Not only do our fruits, vegetables and flowers flourish with abundant sun, the weeds are taking off as well. Stay tuned to future newsletters where we’ll tackle the art and strategy of keeping the weeds at bay on an organic farm. In the meantime, take a look at those shifting fields! It’s a gorgeous time of year and the abundance is only beginning.