Trusting the Process
Reflections around the time of Solstice
The Winter Solstice. The long, and this year cold, nights. Solstice presents time to reflect over the past season and set intentions towards the following year. A season less about physical activity and more about the mind and dreams.
Reflecting back on the year I am grateful for the people involved and all the work completed. Whether it was building greenhouses with Bryan in the early season, learning how to use new tools in the spring with Brad, working markets with Erin, harvesting bunches of herbs with Erika, or spending time with my number 1 Mary, it is people that make a farm anything besides a weed patch. Hiring, training, and working with new people takes significant investments. In the end though, the tools we set up are only as good as their operators making people our most valuable asset.
The consistent presence of folks makes growth happen. It is tough to trust the process of growth. I have chronically spent the past few years investing the small profits of the farm right back into tools and infrastructure. This has tended to make the business lean financially. Coupled with the rising prices of inflation, 2022 marked an especially lean year.
Take a step back and I can’t help but be impressed. The investments made, while still learning their nuances, have tremendous potential. Whether a Paper Pot Transplanter (still deciding if this was a good investment), a walk-behind cultivator, or a box truck these tools will help us produce more in 2023.
Can you guess what the best investment, besides people, was this year? Turns out an electric golf cart with a small pick-up bed. This little workhorse gets used every single day we are on the farm. It has saved thousands of steps and wear and tear on my personal truck. The affectionately named “Veg Slayer” has provided a vehicle for the farm’s progress.
Our path has not been straightforward. Many farms grow larger year after year. Folks Farm is heading the opposite direction. Our intention is to focus on a single farm in 2023. For the past 3 years I have always farmed multiple plots. While this year’s acreage was closer than ever before, the stress of managing multiple locations limits our potential to excel at either space. Through streamlining and down-sizing I hope to make gains in efficiency, customer service, and product quality. There is a piece of me that is always hungry to produce more, a trait that has led the farm where it is today. The upcoming season is all about refinement.
A silver lining to growing on multiple farms has been limited labor. This led to a heavy investment in our soil. When hands are limited, turning over beds and producing multiple cash crops is out of the question. Instead, we planted several acres of cover crops after the primary harvests. The garlic came out, sorghum went in. This grass grew to an impressive 8 feet high before being planted to winter rye. Other parts of the farm are now under a winter-kill cover crop. Our garlic planting for 2023 was preceded by buckwheat. After all these plantings I don’t think the farm has ever looked better. Every bed, except 4 which currently hold garlic, are still growing something. This cover will protect and grow our soil for months to come and hopefully yield an abundance in 2023.
Living with seasons, growing in nonlinear ways, regenerating the cycles of nature to produce food is an ongoing process. Every day has the potential for completely new challenges, successes, and failures to sprout. The chaos of it all is surrounded by pivotal moments like solstices that keep our world grounded. Embracing the wildness of the process has been my takeaway from this year.
I realize that my path is unique and, while sometimes stressful, carries so much inherent beauty. I can only place my best guess as to what next season will look like. I would have it no other way. Imagine if we knew what tomorrow will bring? Life would be irrepressibly boring. I look forward to continuing to embrace the process of growth in 2023 and only hope to remain flexible for both the failures and successes inevitable.
In all honesty, I have never been more excited about doing it all over again. Happy Solstice everyone, wishing you grace on yourselves and trust in your own process.
Big thank you to everyone who braved the storm and came out to the Solstice Celebration! Feeling very grateful for the people in our lives.
CSA shares are currently available for 2023! Use the code “eatyourfolkingveg” at checkout for 5% off CSA shares for next season, valid until the end of December. Combined with the additional 10% off CSA customers already receive this makes for a great deal.
We are finishing up our germination tests on seeds so look forward to our offerings in January. Some really exciting new crops came out of the field the year that we are pleased to offer.
A final note, Alex will be teaching an “Beginning Seed Saving, Selection, and Crop Adaptation” workshop at Fort Collins Nursery. For more information and to sign up click here.