20 Years Later, We Still Have Rain

Today ended three days of hard rain in the midst of a week of showers—and it’s not quite over yet. But at least this afternoon the sun came out for a while and we were able to work in the garden for a little bit. With such nice, moist soil, I dug annual grass out of the rose bed and transplanted some rudbeckia that I’d started in the greenhouse. Weeding annual grass is a treat because the roots are so shallow, unlike the rhizome grass I’m usually digging.

I love my perennial garden in the spring because I’m always surprised at what comes back and what doesn’t. I lost a couple of roses to the harsh winter but the rudbeckia seeded itself so prolifically, I wouldn’t have needed to start any transplants this year. New veronica too are coming in all over the garden so I’ll dig up some of those to give away. The heliopsis—false sunflower—have even spread into the upper flowers, so I spent quite a bit of time removing as many as I could. They’re a thick, bushy plant and I want to contain them in just one corner of the garden and along the northern fence.

With all the rain, the wild golden peas—thermopsis montana pea–are blooming brightly on the bank of our upper ditch. I’ll pair them with dark purple lilacs tomorrow for a bouquet. My favorite Rocky Mountain wildflower book, Kinnikinnick, calls this flower “a golden banner that announces spring.” I see it blooming along the river as well; I should try to transplant some onto other untended areas of the farm.

Last Saturday was our CSA’s opening day for the members and we had a wonderful morning, despite some drizzle as we picked. We gave spinach, lettuce, mizuna, arugula, walking onions, green garlic, radishes, spicy greens, and baby turnips, whose greens were, according to some members, absolutely delicious. That’s a pretty good haul for the second Saturday in May. Tomorrow’s pick may not be as extensive because the soil is so wet and therefore more fragile, but we will have lots of dark green, crinkly-leafed spinach again and beautiful lettuces from the plastic-covered “blue house” (so-called because it’s not the green house).

This season is Stonebridge’s 20th as a CSA, which leaves us incredulous at how quickly time has passed. The CSA was founded in 1992 when owners Lowell and Arvilla Fey and neighbor Jennifer Ellen heard about community farming at Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and asked John, who was renting the farmhouse, to join them in establishing this new kind of small-scale farm. John remembers, “In those first years, no one knew what CSA meant and they’d look at us funny when we said it.” After a few years, the Feys retired to their family farm in Nebraska, Jennifer established Jen-Lo Farms with her mother Lois, and I joined John in running Stonebridge.

In the last 20 years, John and I have seen growing support for new food systems that emphasize environmental sustainability. We were both influenced by the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s that promoted natural, healthy foods grown organically in ways that didn’t harm the earth. Since then, stopping the ecological devastation of the planet has only become more urgent, so those ideas are finally moving toward the mainstream—but not quickly enough for us.

As farmers, John and I are committed to keeping our land in agricultural production by remaining rural. This land is special: we have irrigation ditches that provide homes for great-horned owls, bald eagles, herons, bears, and raccoons, not to mention all the families who take home fresh, organic vegetables each week.

For the last several years, we have mentored new farmers through the county’s Building Farmers program and we hope more communities will follow Boulder County’s lead in helping small farmers and urban gardeners. Each farm has its own personality and it will take many kinds of farms to grow the food we need here. After 20 years of sharing the bounty from this land, we’re grateful for the community support that keeps us going out to the field each day. And we’re grateful, too, for the rain that nourishes our land, even when it all seems to come at once.

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7 Comments

Filed under ecobiography, sustainable agriculture

7 responses to “20 Years Later, We Still Have Rain

  1. Mo

    Very nice Kayann. I am so lucky to be one of your mentee’s.
    I love the picture of John.

  2. 20 years of nurturing land is an incredible milestone. I agree with wemeatagain that your writing is like a meditation between food and place. It’s called agri – culture for a reason.

    • Thank you and you are very right about the culture of agriculture. I think the connection between food and place became engrained in me on my grandparents’ farms when I was growing up. It’s so important for kids to learn where food comes from and how it grows. We work with high school students who come from urban areas all over the country. They’re always amazed that they can pull a carrot right out of the ground and eat it, as if food can only come out of a package from a store! What a liberating message, one I hope we can all learn in our own ways.

  3. What a lovely meditation on the connection between food and a sense of place. Agriculture is truly an access point to a deeper understanding of the land, and you summed that up perfectly here.

  4. john

    Note to all readers: Click to enlarge the photos. The flower photo is magical when made large.

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