Greentree Naturals Summer Into Fall 2020
I hope you are staying healthy and grounded in these uncertain times. It has been a roller coaster ride with this pandemic and it affects all of us in different ways. My usual "spring into summer" newsletter got cancelled with everything else. I cancelled our on-farm organic gardening series for the first time in 25 years and we didn't host a Pumpkin Project with the neighborhood school for the first time in 20 years. I suspect that everyone has experienced much the same. Suddenly we are all wearing masks and washing our hands more often. I find myself looking for a person's smile in their eyes since most everyone is wearing a mask. We continue to adjust to these COVID times the best that we can and look forward to some sense of "normal." We have to find a way to respect these new boundaries that the Coronavirus has created and still do our best to live the version of life that all of us are used to. Nature manages to adapt to whatever comes and we need to do the same.
I remember watching the morning news in February when the report of this pandemic was first mentioned. The broadcaster suggested making sure that we have enough food on hand to be sequestered for at least 14 days. We reviewed our pantry and agreed that we pretty much had what we needed. Thom and I have both lived places in the past where we were 50+ miles to the nearest grocery store which taught us to adapt to cooking with what we have on hand. Living rural means planning ahead by always stocking up and we of course can, freeze, or dry a fair amount of what we harvest from our gardens.
Self-distancing was already a normal part of our lives on the farm. Before COVID, we were anti-social; now we are socially acceptable! I've talked with other farmer friends, and most of us agree that our routines have remained pretty much the same. The crops get planted and tended to no matter what. For us, the changes that have come with COVID are more about not hugging friends and customers, wearing masks, and keeping a distance. We do miss those social pot-luck gatherings where everyone brings something fresh from the gardens to share with family and friends and look forward to a time when we can do that again! Small farms are all about the community that supports us and local food is always important.
Meanwhile, during the farming season there is little time to squander on much other than the tasks at hand. We went from considering downsizing food production in January to increasing plantings of several different crops once the pandemic arrived. I have found that there are always successes and failures with each growing season. It's always something! Over the years, we have consistently had the most beautiful kale and Swiss chard; it has always thrived in our cool, wet spring weather. This year, we simply could not get it to grow. Sometimes, with farming or gardening, all you can do is let go of your expectations and accept that nature always wins. We can do everything that we know how to do, and the bottom line is, we can do all the right things and nature will still challenge us. I've always said that if you are going to grow a garden in north Idaho, you've got to plan for the hottest, coldest, wettest, driest growing season in recorded history and I suppose this is true of most anywhere. If the weather doesn't challenge you, the pests and wildlife will. It is a good way of keeping us humble and indeed, we are humbled by it! Thankfully, we had plenty of other crops that were successful and bountiful. We live our lives with gratitude for the things that we can do that make a difference.
Amidst the pandemic chaos, in May, I was nominated by a local organization for the Woman of Wisdom Lifetime Achievement Award. Normally they would have a special event luncheon along with other celebratory activities, but of course this was cancelled. I have included a link from our local newspaper that tells more about it. It made me feel like queen for a day or two! I am officially a "W.O.W." Woman of Wisdom AND a Woman of the Woods! I am honored to be featured along with many other remarkable women from our community. Here's the link to an article written in our local newspaper about it if you'd like to know more:
This was our second year to have the Farm Stand and we couldn't be happier with this change after 28 years at the local farmers market. We have a loyal group of customers who come and show their support by buying a week's worth of vegetables from us. Thom put up a Plexiglas shield so I have a protective barrier in place where I weigh vegetables and have people pay. I've posted signs encouraging customers to be respectful of others and to social distance, and for the most part, they do. It is often crazy busy for the first hour, with 8-9 people standing in line. Everyone seems to be patient and willing to stay 6 feet apart while they wait. Only about half of my customers wear masks. I think a part of it is that they feel safe in the open air market here on the farm.
A local artist did a plenaire painting
of our Farm stand this summer
We had a group of twenty-somethings volunteering for a couple of hours one or two days a week throughout the summer. Willa, Jacob, and Alexander are all from Los Angeles, laid off from their jobs due to COVID and enjoying the summer with family here in Sandpoint. So great to see such enthusiasm and always happy to have an extra set of hands for weeding! Anthea helped with planting and transplanting in the spring before returning to her position as a marine deputy and has been volunteering with us for several years. Linda interned with us in 2014 and has been volunteering one day a week to help with planting, harvesting, putting the CSAs together, and has become a member of our farm family. We are most grateful for our volunteers. We also had an on-farm research project with a graduate student from University of Idaho assessing ways to organically control wire worms in the soil. Atoosa came to the farm to gather samples and set up assorted test plots all summer long. This project is funded by the Organic Farming Research Foundation and will continue into 2021.
Now that the growing season is officially over with, we are working on collecting and cleaning seeds for Snake River Seed Cooperative, garden clean up, taking the plastic off the hoop houses and high tunnel, and planting garlic. We look forward to winters embrace and a time to rest our wary bodies after a long summer of farming. We find that it takes us longer to do most everything, but we still manage to do what needs to be done. We are talking about transitioning the farm to the next generation farmer with the vision of this happening in the next three years. While neither of us can imagine actually "retiring," we do hope to find someone to take over the primary operations. For now, our "retirement" is during the winter months. We really don't know how we keep up with it, but know we must as we still have a mortgage which keeps us committed to growing.
We have some difficult times before us. I think it's important to remember that we are all going through this pandemic with different challenges; we need to be patient and kind to each other. It is my wish for all of you that you stay healthy and endure as best that you can. Author Vivian Greene explained, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain." This storm will pass! VOTE November 3!
Anthea mulching cabbage
Willa and Jacob harvesting garlic scapes
Linda prepping beets for CSAs
Atoosa setting wire worm traps
Willa with Indian corn harvest