This weekend, as Julie walked the fields, she was feeling very good about what she saw. While some crops are still struggling (the cucumbers, the beans), the maladies that lingered on in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias seem to be lifting. There are beautiful squash plants in west field. The chard, whose leaves began to look burnt and spotty in the wake of the storm, are responding beautifully to the treatment of being cut down. The basil is looking up, and might be ready for another pick next week. The brassicas are looking good, making up for their early-season struggles, and this year’s sweet potatoes look to be the best that Julie has ever grown. The SeaShield that Julie recently reordered from AEA may have helped, the ongoing focus on weeding and mulching, also. Mulch attracts cool-and dark-seeking earthworms, who produce rich castings, a powerful fertilizer. The roots enjoy more moisture and cooler temperatures, as does the microbial life in the soil. More organic matter is created by the action of the microbes, which builds a better system. Julie says “I’ve turned a lot of crops around by getting them weeded and mulched”. This week, weeding and mulching is high on Julie’s project list – with about 10 of the 40 fields in west field needing to be cleaned up.
The staff picture on the farm has improved in this past week too. Two new WWOOFERs – Eric and Sam – proved to be wonderful, hard-working additions this past week. Maya has returned to the farm after a summer in Oregon at an herbal training, and will be coming to the farm once a week. The students from the Stetson School have resumed their usual schedule which brings them to the farm every Monday and every other Friday. Julie took particular joy in the delight that this week’s boys found in the work – Candido, who delighted in showing Clare the throws he’d developed while getting apples into collection pails; Chrishawn, who exhorted the sweet potatoes to behave as he moved the stragglers back back into their bed: “All right now you plants. You need to get back into your own beds. You just get this one. Good plants”. The only bittersweet crew news is that Ari will soon be reducing their time at the farm to one day a week, as a consequence of going back to college come fall. Julie notes that in their time with us, Ari has become a valuable and confident leader on the farm, with a particular talent for working with groups of helpers that need a little extra direction and support. “I look at Ari and wish that I was as calm, cool and collected”, she says with a smile.