Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest posting: Intern Margaret!

Hi everyone! I have probably smiled at you in the shed at distribution, or cornered your kids out in the field to show them a nifty plant or beetle. So far it has been an AMAZING experience growing food for you all at Mud Creek and getting to know you a little bit. My days here are fascinating, challenging, very enjoyable, and never the same twice.

One of my most satisfying tasks has been tomato trellising. Hopefully you have been enjoying your pounds and pounds of colorful, lumpy, delicious tomatoes in the share recently. We're overwhelmed too! But it's a hugely satisfying reward after many weeks of care and attention to the farm's half a mile of tomato plants. After raising these little guys in the greenhouse, we transplanted them outside, mulched with straw, and irrigated repeatedly during those long, hot days of July and August. Tristan also pounded metal stakes every several feet between the plants, onto which Colleen and I have been weaving successive layers of trellis to hold the plants upright, for better air circulation and ease of harvest.

Trellising is an intense job, requiring whole-body coordination and always seeming to happen on the hottest, stickiest afternoons. When I trellis, I don long sleeves, gloves, hat, and a backpack holding a box of sisal twine. The twine runs over my shoulder and through two holes at either end of a thick wooden dowel. I tie the twine fast at one end of a row, and then walking along, I scoop up the trailing vines and use the "shuttle" to loop the twine tightly around the stakes. The tomatoes are caught between twine on either side, creating a tall, flat hedge. Rows pass more quickly as my arms and legs learn the rhythmic movements of this giant tapestry weaving/ dance/ wrestling match with the tomato vines. Scoop, walk, twist, pull, scoop, walk, twist, pull-- and so the wild jungle is tamed...only to quickly outgrow its restraints with the next week's rain and sunshine. Bending the wills of these living beings to our own purposes is an ongoing task!

As I returned from trellising last week, sweaty and exhausted, a small movement caught my eye in the cherry tomatoes. A brown spider was weaving her web in the highest tomato branches, the fine threads of her intricate pattern glistening in the sunset. How easy it looks for her! I thought. When she's finished, does her body feel as tired as mine does? Does she feel as proud and accomplished? And what striking similarity there is in our designs, our motives, the motions we make each day in a continual dance with the rest of life.

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