First Friday of the month at 5p.m.
KFCF, 88.1 FM Fresno
Listen to our podcast.
The soil now gets a rumpling soft and damp,
And small regard to the future of any weed.
The final flat of the hoe’s approval stamp
Is reserved for the bed of a few selected seed.
There is seldom more than a man to a harrowed piece.
Men work alone, their lots plowed far apart,
One stringing a chain of seed in an open crease,
And another stumbling after a halting cart.
To the fresh and black of the squares of early mould
The leafless bloom of a plum is fresh and white;
Though there’s more than a doubt
if the weather is not too cold
For the bees to come and serve its beauty aright.
Wind goes from farm to farm in wave on wave,
But carries no cry of what is hoped to be.
There may be little or much beyond the grave,
But the strong are saying nothing until they see.
-Robert Frost, 1936
My friend, Cecilia Sheeter, once described a moment of evening light when one feels as if its “thick golden sheen could be scooped out of the air.” To me, the spring air has that same feel, it is dense with all the promise of a new year. Bud break in grapes is my favorite week of this, my favorite season. A field of nascent green is suspended over the earth on a squat army of gnarled trunks. Years of past mistakes, misgivings, and missed opportunities are the wood of the vine, nourishing the tender young shoots. Their vigor holds so much enthusiasm; even our human losses seem diminished. This is Mr. Willey’s most stressful time of year. To him, all that spring potential is fraught with tension, danger and toil. With literally hundreds of tasks, for dozens of crops, to be completed in an ever-narrowing window of time and temperature, deciding each day’s priorities seems perilous. “Silty, sandy, muddy Earth, we savor God’s ardent endowment in you. Make us worthy stewards of your robust gifts, in wonderment and fright we witness life renew.” -denesse
“The medical profession is only beginning to recognize that no amount of medical technology will enable us to have healthy humans on a sick planet.” ― Thomas Berry
Usually, I welcome the autumnal equinox with as much gratefulness as the vernal crossing brings trepidation. Even with last week’s light showers, our farm appears a bit dingy and dusty, despite running a water wagon over its roads six days a week. Cool nights are welcome to many of our fall seedings. The Autumn Farm Tour will feature beets, carrots, lettuce, kale, turnips, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, leeks, chilies, sweet peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, parsley, dill, baby bok choy, basil, fennel, parsnips, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts and spinach. Reservations are required, directions are on the “Farm Tour” page.
Our three grown, college-educated children pursue careers other than cultivating the soil they’ve watched their parents tend for thirty-some seasons on several farms. The intimate, personal-farmer relationship we have enjoyed with thousands of local families through T&D Willey Farms‘ CSA program over the last dozen years is, without doubt, the most gratifying experience of our farming career. It is also the most exhausting. Desiring to perpetuate and further elaborate the local farm-to-family network our CSA initiated, we have begun collaboration with a new, visionary, community-based organization Read the rest of the story
A few weeks back, I signed a refund of deposit check for one of our original CSA members from November 2002. “We want to take a break” was the reason for discontinuing service after 12 years. I whispered under my breath, “me too.” Those of you who read this column know my family suffered 3 deaths in 20 days last October, their average age was 67, the same as Mr. Willey’s. In January, one of our sons, by way of condemning capitalism, told us “In this country, we work too hard to make money.” The last time I only worked five days a week was in 1986; since then our three children have each earned college degrees and I’m beginning to learn a new perspective on work. We will still be farming Certified Organic vegetables up here on the southwest corner of Avenue 14 and Road 20, but we’re taking a break from administering the weekly boxes. – denesse