February Farming (and Dreaming)

Farming in February starts out as mostly an indoor activity. It primarily involves planning crops, ordering seeds and supplies, fixing equipment, and making long lists of things to be done. This is the month we finish hiring our farm crew, apply finishing touches to the crop plan, create our Food Access plan for the season and decide which new farm endeavors will be implemented. The part about new endeavors is really enjoyable; I think of this as the ‘dreamy’ part of farming.

Between December and February every new idea for the farm is exciting and seems absolutely possible. Pigs? Chickens? Goats? Rabbits? Icelandic horses? Sure! Let’s do it! Okra? Ginger? Peanuts? Winter wheat? Absolutely – let’s grow it all! Ice skating on the pond? Hay rides? Summer farm camp? Sure! What fun! Recipe swaps? Cooking demos? Children’s story time? Farm crafts for everyone? Yes! Yes! Yes! And so many more really great ideas …….

As February progresses, we move away from the desk and dreaming work, and into the physical work that becomes increasingly urgent as the days grow longer. We also spend time shoveling snow, fixing and cleaning things and, finally implementing plans. If we’ve prepared well and remembered all the details needing to be managed, all goes smoothly as the season unfolds: Setting up the greenhouse: Heater works? Check. Soil mix thawed? Check. Seeds on hand? Check. Mouse traps deployed? Check. Tractor removed from the greenhouse? Soon as that wheel’s back on it! Starting seeds: Daily greenhouse labor lined up? Check. Seeding schedule ready to go? Check. Etcetera.

Sometime in February the ‘dreamy’ part of the farming year starts to move toward the back burner. You can imagine how it happens. As the physical work becomes more urgent, the expansive dreams become tinged with anxiety and reined in by the reality of a 24 hour day. Quickly the dreams become centered on the day-to-day: Good dream=all the alliums seeded in a day. Bad dream=mice develop appetite for germinating allium seeds! The work needed to pursue our fantastic dreams – importing an Icelandic horse, finding peanut and ginger seed, selecting children’s books, organizing recipe swaps, farm crafts, hay rides, etc. takes second place to growing the crops we’ve promised our shareholders and other partners.

While the end of February forces our attention on the nuts and bolts of farming, it needn’t stop our dreaming. At Moraine Farm, our on-the-ground reality is not limited by a farmer’s time and preoccupation with growing vegetables. In fact, since day one, CSA shareholders and friends of Moraine Farm have helped to shape and create what happens here, taking us far beyond the basics of growing vegetables. I look around and see evidence of our farm community everywhere: A well-skinned high tunnel, signage, farm walks, fall farm festivals, our first three years captured in photos, a brilliant walk-in cooler design, greenhouse bench tops, shared recipes ….. and so much more.

I  believe that by working together, there are no limits to what we can create at here. Might take more than a season, but that’s part of the adventure. Join your farmers, Liz and Gretta, on Thursday, February 20, 9:00-Noon and/or Saturday, March 1, 9:00-11:30 for some greenhouse work and some conversation about what you would like to see at Moraine Farm. Sign up using the links. Bring your dreams!

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