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July Blooms

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posted by Maryellen Driscoll

This is a heartening week at our farm as some highly anticipated crops: potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant—have begun to flower, and some are even bearing fruit. It’s hard to explain the sense of reassurance, or even relief there is upon seeing these blossoms.

No matter how many years we farm, it always feels as though we’re holding our breath the first few months of the season. The unknowns can weigh heavily.

For starters, we can’t predict or control the weather, which is at the core of a year’s success or struggle. We can’t be completely sure of our markets: will we get the same kind of turnout at farmer’s markets? Will there be new vendors selling the same products? Will our area chefs remain committed to buying fresh and local? We definitely can’t be sure of our help—will they catch on, work efficiently, stick it out? Then there’s the cost of operation, grain and fuel in particular, which only keeps climbing. All these uncertainties are accentuated by the usual financial anxiety; like most farms, we start the season by taking on debt, gambling that our income will eventually surpass our operating costs.

So, for us, those blossoms are both  symbolic and concrete signs of encouragement. They indicate that some of our most cherished and valuable crops are coming along.

They serendipitously bloom at a time when we’re starting to catch our breath, establish a rhythm, wade through or at least get comfortable with some of the unknowns. And for our customers and CSA members, it’s the beginning of a reprieve from all those early season greens.

Of course, any hail storm, drought, or excessive heat or rain could come along and sabotage this progress. Heck, our neighbor’s herd of dairy cows could bust loose and trample through our gardens. In farming, you learn to expect such things. So, when we can, we do pause to enjoy those flowers…and maybe inspect for insect pests while we’re at it. After all, farmers can’t afford to lollygag.

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