The sun rises on a singularly bright and clear spring day, and the gates of Restoration Farm swing open welcoming members old and new. It is the start of the 2012 growing season.
Everywhere you look, the hands of dedicated volunteers have been at work cultivating life at the seven-acre farm. Volunteers are always encouraged, as working outdoors promotes the health of the farm community and the health of the individual.
The area surrounding the herb garden has been expanded, and a map board has been added to help members navigate the fields. The herb gardens are already lush with greenery, and picnic tables have been added to encourage community.
Head Growers Dan Holmes and Caroline Fanning bring us up to date on the continuing evolution of the farm. They lead a procession down the path toward the fields.
Our first stop is a new area where Glenn Aldridge is crafting an edible forest garden.
It is playfully nicknamed “Voodoo Garden,” as Glenn is looking to create a bit of magic with the landscape and edible varieties. He has already planted red currants, horseradish and Asian pears, perennials that flourish in the forest and provide tasty forage. The plants will be ornamental and edible so they provide beauty and nourishment.
We emerge on the fields and a warm and lively perfume dances in the air, a sweet mélange of soil, manure, pollen and fresh greens.
Peach trees, planted three seasons ago by Glenn show signs of bearing fruit.
Sprightly red lettuce is popping out of the soil. The first distribution in June will hopefully include heaps of fresh, tender greens.
We stop where heritage meat birds are free-ranging. The first batch of chicks arrived in February and will be ready for our tables at the end of May. This is a different type of bird than last season. They take longer to mature and are leaner and more flavorful. Caroline says the integration of chickens into a vegetable operation is a puzzle that they embrace and are still working to solve. Dan reminds us that “eating is an agricultural act,” and that we need to open our palates to new experiences. We’ll have opportunities to learn recipes that take advantage of the distinctive flavor and texture of these special breeds.
At Apple Trace – the line of eight heirloom apple trees planted in memory of my Dad – what were just bare twigs weeks ago, are now clustered with small leaves.
I hear from a reliable source that my friend George Garbarini has kept the saplings at Apple Trace well watered during the recent drought.
The old Hewlett Apple Orchard, which we worked so hard to prune back in March, is filled with nicely shaped, mature trees. Compared to the young saplings at Apple Trace, these are old characters. The spring flower blossoms have fallen, giving way to the potential for apples this summer.
Donna Sinetar’s flock of laying hens has grown in number. While Donna’s “girls” still don’t lay enough eggs for the entire CSA membership, there are enough to sell them through an honor system at the distribution area and they are in great demand.
The strawberry patch is a blanket of white blossoms, promising bright, juicy red berries in just a few weeks.
Another team of volunteers is building a trellis of netting to protect the blueberry bushes from hungry birds.
Back at the distribution tent, we enjoy a banquet of homespun sweets baked by longtime member, Lulu McCue.
A group of smaller hands engage in a touch of creativity, splashing farm carts with paint and adding color to the landscape of Restoration Farm.
And so, another season begins again – marked by a community of members cultivating life from the soil and nurturing the growth of each other.
©2012 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved