It has been months since we last wrote. Our heads and hands have been away from electronic communication, save for the late night frantic copying down of restaurant orders or checking the radar for oncoming thunderstorms. We are currently harvesting a wide array of crops three times per week while preparing for a bountiful fall. For the past six weeks (and continuing through September) we have been preparing land, planting, and weeding fall salad greens, brassicas, carrots, beets, and our last successions of basil, dill, and cilantro. We spent a late July day in Stillwater, dismantling a greenhouse that we found on Craigslist. We plan to erect the greenhouse in the city this fall, as a prototype for what we hope is the development of more intensified growing in heated greenhouses and hoophouses.
There is a certain repetition that begins to intensify this time of the farm season. The sound of ice cream trucks driving by, hauntingly crying “Fur Elise” while another tomato plant is lifted from the ground, clipped, and pruned. Afternoon chatter turns to evening barbecues that turn into nighttime walks while we often continue to pick a last tray of tomatoes, clean up the packing area, or hoe a final row of tomatoes. I oscillate between entrapment and enchantment this time of year. The desire to be freed from the daily toil of the farm, the incessant demands of plants and plant-eaters while also feeling deeply at peace with the glint of light passing through thousands of tomato leaves, the meditative action of lightly dragging a hoe through the soil hour upon hour. I have been thinking about how much of human discontent comes from our internal circumstances as opposed to our external circumstances. In years past I have allowed myself to become consumed by worry, by distraction, by wanting to leave the work for something else. This year I attempt (however feebly), to settle into the act of farming, the inevitability of endless August days, the lived experience of crop failures, crop successes, personal failures, personal successes. Time will tell if this outlook will increase the quality of our produce.
We have been especially grateful for the wonderful people that have kept this farm humming and singing day in and day out. Three summer interns, Abdul, Angela, and Olivia will all be leaving the farm shortly. Angela, a University of Minnesota horticulture student, brought tenacity and energy to each day she worked. She made beautiful flower bouquets and worked harder than most. Unfortunate for us, she is headed back to school. Olivia, a McGill University student and Minnesota native, connected with us through PLACE, a non-profit housing developer exploring greenhouse integration into housing developments. She has provided a calm, unwavering intelligence, willing to tackle unwieldy projects (the bicycle powered salad spinner) even if the results are less than promising. Abdul, a Somali, former print factory worker, and current University of Minnesota horticulture graduate student, will be sorely missed. Abdul worked in the Ministry of Agriculture in Somalia until civil unrest erupted in 1992. He is now hoping to gather agricultural knowledge and skills in the United States so that he can return to Somalia to begin his own farm and teach his neighbors. Abdul is curious, good-natured, and established a beautiful experiment of cowpeas while on the farm. We are hoping each of the interns will keep pursuing their agricultural interests and stay connected with Stone’s Throw Urban Farm.
Plans are in the works to spend the fall building more high tunnels, harvesting hardy crops through December, and making investment decisions including the purchase of land. Please stop by the Mill City Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or our weekly on-site farmstands on Tuesday afternoons (3-7 PM) at 625 Dale Ave, Saint Paul and 2820 15th Ave S., Minneapolis. We have lots of stories and lovely food.
Many thanks for your interest and support of our farm,