This week marked the end of our first trimester of training on the farm. I have been assigned to the “fields” team for these first few weeks. My team next moves to either “animals” or “nursery” as our focus, and another team will take our place on “fields.” I guess it’s only fitting that on Friday, my last day on “fields,” my team (all 2 of us present that day: me and Maya) walked the fields with Farm Manager Manju. Manju had Maya and I walk the field by ourselves first, with the purpose of taking mental notes of what we saw that needed attention. Then we walked the fields together with Manju who pointed out to us things we missed and some we actually noticed on our own. We kept stopping and wanting to take care of things that needed attention along the way, but Manju repeatedly urged us to “keep moving” so we could complete our walk of the fields. We did manage to do some partial tasks along the way, just so we would know how to do them in the future. We moved parts of an old watering system, filled in the end of a bed, and the usual picking of weeds and dead leaves. But the main thing we did was compile a growing mental list of “things to do and look for on the farm.” Maya and I both agreed that it was our biggest day of learning and it was a bit overwhelming. I think walking the fields served to put all the pieces together that we have been learning separately, plus it added some pieces we had not previously learned.
The ultimate take home for me is that observation and work are the most crucial tasks performed by a successful farmer. The title of my post is “The Radishes Are Ready” because one of Manju’s most important observations on our field walk was that the radishes were ready to come out immediately or many would split open over the weekend since there was rain predicted. (Oh yeah and a farmer also needs to be aware of the weather forecast.) Since the radishes were a high priority, we picked the ones that needed to be picked. These were generally the ones that were starting to bolt, were of a larger size, needed thinning due to overcrowding, and the ones that were literally sitting on top of the soil asking to be picked. I’m glad we were able to save them since they make gorgeous food (plus they match Manju’s jacket).
After the farm day was over, we shared another locally sourced meal prepared by Elinor and the former interns around this table. At the end of the day, I have mixed emotions about passing the torch to the new fields team because I’m only just starting to learn myself. Farewell fields, gophers, cabbage worms, mulch mountain, enzyme wash, not actually so smelly compost…I’ll miss you all while I’m busy tending to the nursery and the animals!