Archive for March 15th, 2011

CSA Information

admin March 15th, 2011

Hi Folks - I can’t believe how much work getting the information up on my vegetable and herb plant CSA has been - first I had to wait for all the seed orders to come in so I could accurately describe what plants I would have, and I’m still germinating many of them.  I’m still not done, but it is time to put up the CSA membership information, and the incomplete plant lists - watch carefully over the next week for more info and details.

Here is how to join and our FAQ, as well as a list of “garden packages” we offer (if you’d like one of the garden packages as part of your CSA, just take 20% off the price!). Right here is an incomplete list of the varieties of garden annual vegetables and flowers that will be available. Here is a more-complete list of the herbs that will be available.  Here are the native plants, and I’ll have in the next day or two a list of  perennial vegetables and useful other perennial plants - I’ll post a notice when that is up.

Individual plants are priced as follows - all annual 4 packs are $3 or 75 cents each.  Yes, you can mix and match.  Most perennials, natives and herb plants are between $2-6 each depending although a few are available in 4 packs for the same price - I will put that up shortly.

Here’s how you can buy plants from us.  First, you can come to the farm or one of our drop off spots and buy plants individually at full price. Or, if you’d like to join the CSA, you can sign up now, and join at whatever dollar amount you want above $40.  Half is due upfront to support the nursery enterprise.  What you get for your upfront investment is this - you get 20% more plant dollars to spend - so if you guess you will spend $100, you send me a check or paypal for $50, and you get $120 worth of plants from us, with the other $50 due on delivery.  If you have a small garden and want to spend $40, mix and match, terrific, send me a check or paypal for $20, and you’ll get $48 of plants from us.

If you want specific varieties from our seed list, please email me at [email protected] and I will reserve them - otherwise, plants are first come first served.  CSA members get first choice.  I will also send out email notifications when we update our lists, so you can pick more stuff.

How do you get your plants?  I will be arranging drop off at several locations in the Capital Region - in Schenectady and Albany for sure, and probably also in Troy.  You can also come to our farm and pick up, just email or call first.  We will have several open farm days over the course of the spring and early summer as well.  We will have plants available from mid-April (for early garden planting) until July (for fall garden planting), and you can spread your investment across multiple seasons, say, if you subscribe for $200 (which would get you $240 worth of plants), you can get $160 worth of plants in may, and come back for another $80 for your fall garden - or any combination you like.  Your farm credit is good for the whole season.

Many of our plants are rare or unusual, including many pollinator attractants, nitrogen fixeres, permaculture plants, and of course, heirloom vegetables - these plants are things you won’t find at every garden center.  Moreover, they are grown with the utmost attention given to plant health and sustainable production - we use local compost whenever possible, recycle plastic whenever we can, reduce plastic use entirely, and grow in sustainable mediums.

Membership in our plant CSA also gives you farm news, and access to other farm products as well - you become part of the farm and the community.  We will happily provide you with growing advice and support by email or phone!  And that, of course is the whole point of Community Supported Agriculture - to bring us all together!

Please email me at [email protected] with questions or with your plant lists and requests!


And Not a Single Regret: On Doing the Crazy Thing

admin March 15th, 2011

The earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle—
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret. - Edgar Lee Masters “Fiddler Jones”

A lot of people have warned me that our decision to adopt through foster care is completely insane.  This I knew.   Some people we love are worried about it, and they are probably right to be worried - they certainly aren’t making up the risks.

When I was thinking about how to answer someone who asked me “aren’t you worried that this could be terrible?”  I found myself infected with her worries - after all, her questions are perfectly reasonable - and I don’t deny it could be terrible.  I can think of a long list of ways it might be - the kids might be so damaged that the placement doesn’t work and we’ll have done more damage to them. Our own kids might hate us for needing to shift attention to other children.   Someone might get hurt or damaged.  Our lives might become chaos that prevent us from doing everything else we want.  I’m actually good at imagining negative scenarios ;-) , as you can probably imagine.

I don’t have an answer to those risks.  I don’t deny their possibility.  At the same time, my entire adult life can pretty much be described as a history of doing the crazy thing, the risky thing, the thing that made no sense to other people.  Our history is one of taking the crazy leap without enough preparation or knowledge - and somehow having it turn out all right.  Or better than that.

It was perfectly reasonable for loving people to doubt whether two grad students living in an apartment in one of the most densely populated cities in the US could make a go of a farm.  They were right - it was a crazy thing to do.  What the hell did we know about farming?

It was reasonable for people to ask whether we were too young and financially insecure to have children.  Was it crazy for us to get pregnant?  Probably - we were financially insecure, newly married, uncertain.

It was reasonable for people to ask whether we were insane, married only a year with a colicky baby, to take on the care of my husband’s aging and fragile grandparents and buy a place with them.  It might have been the unmaking of our marriage, too much stress and strain.

It was reasonable to ask, upon the diagnosis of my oldest child, whether we were nuts to have risked having more children, given that autism runs in families.  They were right - another severely autistic child might have been more than we could bear.

It was reasonable for everyone to wonder whether it was crazy for us to start a CSA - after all we’d only had one full gardening year in our new place, had never run a farm business, and we now had a disabled toddler and a baby, as well as building on for Eric’s grandparents.  It was hard and it might have been too much.

It was perfectly reasonable to wonder whether I was crazy take on not one, but two book contracts when I’d never written a book - and had four kids under 6, one still a baby.  What the heck did I know about writing books?

It was perfectly reasonable to ask whether I had lost my mind when I took on a third book contract before the second one was finished and before any of them had been published (and it would have been even more reasonable to ask that of my publisher ;-) ).

What did we know about dairy goats?  About slaughtering our own chickens?  What did we know about silvopasturing or cisterns?  What do we know now about parenting traumatized children?

Most of our friends and family didn’t ask these questions.   The miracle is that they were supportive, enthusiastic and generously kept their doubts to themselves, or offered us good critical thought and advice.   Still,  I don’t doubt they were secretly looking up the requirements for commitment hearings.

Inexplicably, however, miraculously, however,  what happened was that all of these things were more successful, led to greater happiness and to better outcomes than we would have expected.  The CSA was a howling success.  Eric’s grandparents were the joy of our lives and we wouldn’t have traded that time with them for anything.  The farm has been the basis of everything we’ve done since.  The books weren’t a howling success, but a moderate flow of goodness that still serve us.  The children were gifts and delights - autism turned out have more pleasures and gifts than anyone would have expected.   Every time something seemed too hard (and on some days it certainly did) the hard was achievable, or manageable.  We struggled.  We made mistakes.  We risked a lot - and in the end, like Edgar Lee Master, had not a single regret.

At the same time, the few occasions when I curtailed my natural insanity and listened to either my doubts or someone else’s didn’t work out that well - I finally left the grad school I’d seen as the “safe” choice for me, the logical outcome, the low-risk career choice.  It was safe - but it wasn’t right.  The one time someone told my husband and I we couldn’t do something, that it would ruin our lives, and we didn’t is one of my greatest personal regrets.

Does all that history mean that I might not end up regretting all this?  Not at all - I make no mystical claims about the influence of the past on the present.  This could be the thing that puts us over the edge - and I do have fears and anxieties about adding more kids to my family.  But I found it helpful to put together my own history and look at my past and realize that when I’ve taken wild leaps of faith, I’ve never regretted them.  I’ve only regretted *not* doing the crazy thing I really wanted to do, not taking the big risk.  It is not all the truth that ever was, but it is comforting to know that insanity has its virtues.

Perhaps there are other people out there who would like to do the crazy thing.  I cannot promise you it will work. I can promise you that sometimes you will wonder what the heck you were thinking.  I do say that if fortune smiles on you, if hard work and good luck can make it happen, the crazy thing has much to be said for it.   I’m shooting for what Fiddler Jones had - he was a bad farmer that one, because farming wasn’t his crazy dream like it is mine.  But the outcomes, oh, that’s worth having.  A broken laugh.  A thousand memories.  A body and a fiddle or a scythe and shovel worn to broken.  And, by and large,  not a single regret - at least for the things you took heart and plunged into because they felt right.  But you only get to that by risking failure, by risking regret, loss, disaster.  Its an irony, but a price well worth playing for.