Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm in Awe!

I started to title this post, "I'm Not Worthy," but didn't like the negativity of the comparison. Of course, when one visits an organic farming celebrity of sorts (Nicolas does have his picture in the local Whole Foods, after all), it can be hard not to feel small and inadequate and keenly aware that there's still oh so far to go.

I knew I'd be amazed and couldn't wait to see the farm, but I wasn't prepared for the scale I was about to see. Honestly, I can't even imagine what industrial organic must look like! I was like a kid in a candy shop, bouncing from place to place, dying to get my eyes on what lay inside those fabulous tunnels and to learn as much as I could in such a short time.

Nicolas was incredibly gracious and patient, and he even took time out of harvesting for market to show me around when we arrived. I'm sure I'll get some of the details wrong, and hopefully Madeline will correct me, but I counted 12 high tunnels in production I think, in addition to at least 3-4 open fields. When I asked how much land he had in production, Nicolas said he wasn't sure, but I'm guessing at least 4-5 acres when considering how all those fields and tunnels would fit on my property. Wow! And he does all this with help from just 1-2 other guys! (Starting to get a sense of that unworthiness now?)

****editing to add that Madeline told me he has 12! acres in cultivation, and that we never had a chance to finish my tour that day before heading on our walk. Boo-hoo! Now, I definitely have to go back!

His operation really isn't that large all things considered; it just drove home how incredibly small our CSA is and what it would take to expand in any kind of meaningful way. For now, however, I'm quite satisfied with my humble little farm, as it suits me and the kids just right at this time in our lives. It's the perfect size to learn and grow and make mistakes that don't cost too much. Of course, both Nicolas and Madeline kept telling me not to compare, kept reminding me that they'd been at this for 12 years, kept pressing the point that this isn't what they looked like when they started out.

Still...look at all those gorgeous plants!

I don't think of Maryland as all that far north, but considering we'd just had our first snow the day before and it was in the 70s at Nicolas's farm, there really is a huge difference in growing season. Yet one more reason I shouldn't compare what's going on at my farm to these luscious photos—but I mean really, how could one not!

I loved seeing all the little details of Nicolas's harvest—from how he brings it in from the field to how he washes and spins and packages and stores. I got some great ideas while there, some of which I'll be able to implement next season, others of which will rattle around in the back of my head until the time is right. Most especially I got some great suggestions for varieties to try, along with some sweet potatoes to take home and grow my own slips this year, and I'll definitely be planting those tasty little sweet white turnips he let me try! That's what I love so much about growing food—things are so incredibly delicious right out of the ground that I've discovered a love of so many vegetables that I never thought would touch my lips.

Thank you, thank you Nicolas and Madeline for hosting us at your lovely home and farm. It was such an amazing experience and well worth the drive! Now, we just need to get you guys up here for a visit...


karl said...

what kind of hoses for watering was he using?

Danielle said...

He uses drip tape, not sure what mil.