Graceful Farming

The new year is off to a good start at Old Plank Farm. Better than ever, in a lot of ways. The winter checklists are getting done, and getting done ahead of schedule. Even taxes. That’s never happened before. Pipes haven’t frozen in the kitchen. Pipes have never not frozen here. I’m not suggesting the season will be nothing but smooth sailing. In fact, I know it won’t be. That knowledge is another sign of a good start here.

Some years it seems like farming is nothing more than one fight after another. Farmers fight the weeds, and the bugs, and the big box stores taking over “organic” food sales. We fight the rain, we fight the dry spells, we fight to pay the bills on time. And on and on. Fighting is no good for us or for our farms. The harder we fight, the harder the opponent fights back.

But giving in is not an option, either. We can’t let the weeds take over, or the bugs, or the big box stores. We can’t let the dry spells kill our crops and we can’t let the rain drown our crops. So what other options are there?

Well, we can dance. It takes flexibility, timing, discipline, and passion to choose to dance rather than fight. For instance, if farmers are in tune with the constantly changing needs of their soils and plants, they can grow healthier crops and prevent weeds and pests from becoming aggressive towards them. It takes a lot of practice to learn these moves, but in the long run it’s better than grabbing the spray gun and filling it with pesticides (organic ones or not) to drive away the enemies. When we fight using the spray guns, the bugs come back stronger. When we listen to the underlying needs of the farm and move with rather than against it, the farm gains strength through resiliency.

Good farming practices are like a dance with nature and with everything we are connected to in our communities. It takes a graceful farmer in a lively environment, rather than a soldier in a war-torn one, to grow food worth eating. I can’t claim to be an especially graceful person, but every year I am a more and more graceful farmer. And I believe the food we grow at Old Plank Farm is very much worth eating. I hope you’ll join us in the new year, in a new season of lively eating and healthy living.