So much for the old adage “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” It’s been a really long, cold, gray winter and I think it’s safe to say we are all hopeful that the warm days of spring are here at last. We farmers are waiting for the pastures to turn green again so the animals can graze, the soil to warm so seeds will germinate, and the temperature to stabilize so we can begin transplanting those tiny vegetables from the greenhouse and cold frames to the field.
Each season has its challenges and there’s no such thing as a perfect growing season. Spring weather tends to be erratic and in recent years it seems like we’re trending towards extreme weather patterns no matter which season we’re in. Depending on what they grow and what type of soil they have, the weather conditions that make one grower smile might make another grower’s heart sink. For example, farms that have light sandy soil get to plant and seed early because they have good drainage and the soil warms up earlier than the heavy or clay soils that tend to be more moist and cool and produce better in the summer months.
With years of experience comes the knowledge that has enabled farmers to thrive over the centuries. Although technology has changed the way farms operate, many small scale producers still follow the tried and true methods that their ancestors relied on for generations. This is not to say that small scale farmers haven’t embraced technology because they have, but they have never given up the sensory side of farming — the feel of wind on your face from a certain direction that means it’ll rain in a day or two, the crumbling feel between your fingers of soil that has just moments before become perfect for seeding, and the smell of a great day in the making that signals you will be working from sun up to past sundown and enjoying every minute of it.
In about a month the Market will open and the farmers will reappear with their spring produce. These farmers are the face of the food you buy there. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to have a conversation with the person that grew that food? The Market is so much more than a place of commerce; it is a source of education, a source of community and a foundation block in preserving our food culture. Your support of the farmers, producers, and food artisans at the Market has a direct impact on their lives — and on your own.
Todd Jameson, Balanced Harvest Farm