Glorious Spring!

-Erika Rumbley

It’s a revelation every time. No matter how many seasons you have under your belt, the bloom of life in the early weeks of spring is simply stunning. Crocuses and chives. Its exciting and tender. It comes with a healthy dose of worry as we stalk the forecast and cross our fingers that the earth will be ready for planting when our young plants are ready to move outdoors. Yesterday, that day finally came and we planted so many seedlings! With rain in the forecast, it couldn’t be more perfect.

If you’re a farm stand visitor, you’ve seen where the propagation magic happens! Plants begin their life in the protection of a heated greenhouse and move to an unheated cold frame to acclimatize to the great outdoors. This time of year, you’ll find us most days parked at the seeding bench, watering young plants or shifting tiny plants out of our germination chamber. Parallel to this process in the greenhouse, Langwater farmers are also preparing the fields!

As we navigate uncertain weather on the brink of spring, we’re grateful to all of you who have made a commitment to Langwater this season. Your CSA shares are an investment in our work, in our land and in the food that we’re growing for your table. Thank you.

planting high tunnel

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…