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The busyness of the summer has caught up to me.  I feel exhausted by the end of each day, toss and turn through the night only to wake up tired each morning.  I trick myself into thinking that I need to keep going.  That I need to check things off of my never ending list.  I’ve come to believe that my list is self-inflicted busy-work.  I forget how to slow down.  How to be still.  How to relax.  Perhaps it is my own restlessness that pushes me into a sense of spiritual apathy that I have been experiencing for a while now.

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,

but the contentments made

by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.

I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.

I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.

“The Want of Peace” The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint Press, 1998), 29

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Do you ever get an idea in your head that wont go away.  A thought that consumes you regardless of where you are or what you are doing?  Let me tell you about my current thought.  I’ve been thinking about the likelihood of being able to grow enough food in part of our back yard for a 4 (or so) member CSA.  CSA stands for community supported agriculture.  It’s a farming model in which a person will buy “shares” of the farm for a season.  In early spring people would pay the farmer their membership money, then every week throughout the growing season the person would pick up their “share” of veggies.  CSAs are great ways for people to connect with their food, and it helps the farmer financially during the beginning of the season.  Every CSA is a bit different because every farm across the country is different, but it’s common to see a 20 week CSA charge $500.  Studies have been done to research the cost breakdown of the CSA model vs. grocery and natural food stores and the CSA always proves to be a cheaper option.  The downside is that you have to be able to put the money up in the beginning of the season, and if devastating hail comes through and wipes out the farmers crops, then that affects the food the people will get that week.

I’ve had a few conversations with some friends about me growing veggies for them, but it didn’t really click until Friday.  I was talking with my friend Chris and when he asked about buying any extra veggies I had in my garden my mind went right to a backyard CSA.  We have about a 20′ x 100′ strip of land behind our fence that is technically part of our property.  Our landlord is happy for us to take the fence down and use the land, but she isn’t really interested in having more grass.  She’s said that if we wanted to convert the reclaimed land into a garden, she would be on board with that.  For the last two days I’ve been thinking of taking the fence down, turning compost into the soil, and sewing a cover crop/green manure into the ground to start preparing the soil for working it next year.  I’ve been wondering if I could grow enough in that space for 2 or 4 shares (a full share is generally meant for 4 people), which might mean growing for 8-12 people.  I’ve been thinking about how to irrigate back there.  I’ve been thinking about how I would charge people.  And the most consuming thoughts have to do with whether or not this is a ridiculous idea.

What do you think?  Is this a ridiculous idea?  If you had a friend willing to grow veggies for you in his backyard would you trust him enough to pay him to do it?  I need your thoughts.

[Editor’s note:  I started this post about a month ago.  The day before the first hail that decimated my garden and my positive outlook on life.  I had a rough couple of weeks bouncing back from the weather.  This post is unfinished, but it can offer a bit of an update for those of you looking for one.]

The past month has brought new life to my soul.  I’ve tried to put a finger on it, but I don’t know if there have been specific things that have caused the change for me.  Here’s a couple of highlights for you.

The stress of my 19 credit spring semester ended much better than I expected.  I don’t know if this is because my professors were extra lenient with grading the final papers and exams, or if I had finally felt confidence in the material we had been covering all semester.  I had a pretty heavy load with a lot of 100 level classes I needed to get out of the way.  I felt like I struggled more with my 100 level plant biology class than I did with a 400 level vegetable production class I took last fall.  I think this is because I have a really hard time getting my head around information at the microscopic level, but if I can put my hands on something I have a much better grasp on it.  The majority of classes that I’ll need to take are the hands on/ I can see with my naked eyes what’s going on type classes, so I’m pretty excited about those.  I will be taking Organic Chemistry over the rest of the summer.  The class will start in a week and run for 8 weeks.  I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to this class at all, but I’m glad I’ll be taking it by itself.  And I’ll be glad to be done with it.

I started a summer internship about a month ago.  I’m working on an 8 acre, certified organic farm that has a 75 member CSA program as well as does research on green manures, no-till planting, organic hops production,  and variety trials of a bunch of different vegetables.  I really like being able to be out on the farm every day.  I love the feeling of dirt under my nails and the sun on my face.  I love the fact that my body reminds me of the work I’ve accomplished.  I love the rhythm that cultivating land leads too.  To be honest, there has certainly been a fair share of hard, frustrating work.  I spent nearly an entire week fighting with drip tape for our irrigation system.  I would try to unroll the tape off of a spool (that would inevitably get snagged on itself), walk off 450 feet of tape (the length of a single row), hook up the tape, and then try to patch all the holes. Four days of this drove me crazy.  I’ve also had a good amount of time to work on tasks like weeding, which allow me time to do a lot of thinking.  Having the chance to work on a farm is giving me great fodder for thinking about issues surrounding organic, local, and sustainable food systems.  I started another blog as a way of focusing my thoughts on these issues as well as reflecting on my time on the farm.  It’s called Field and Table and you should click the link and join me over there, too.

I’ve been driving less and less these days.  We live about a 1.5 miles from campus and about 9 miles from the farm.  There’s a grocery store about a block away, and Old Town Fort Collins is about 3 miles away.  Because of the close proximity to the majority of things that I do or need on a regular basis I’ve been able to bike or walk most days.  I have an old Gary Fisher mountain bike that I’ve been riding since 1996.  It’s served me well.  It traveled with me through 4 states and has been a reliable work horse, but it’s pretty outdated  as far as components go.  I had been looking for a bike to replace the Fisher; one that would be a bit more road worthy.  The knobby tires on the Fisher are great if I’m hitting up a single track or wanting to hop off a curb or roll down some stairs, but it sucks energy when I’m rolling on pavement.  I thought about getting a new set of rims and tires with some road slicks on it, but the gearing was still set up for mountain rides.  I started looking for something used, but didn’t really find what I was looking for.  I wanted a bike that I could have a rack and bags set up on the back and maybe one day have a trailer to pull behind.  L and I stopped at Full Cycle and I found the perfect bike for what I wanted.  I rode a few different models and fell in love with a Kona Dew.  It sat right in my modest price range, and had most of what I was looking for.  I slapped some fenders and a rack on it.  I’m looking around for a pannier for the rack, but I’m not sure I really want to shell out $120 for something that I might not use all that much.  Here’s a pic:

BikePretty slick huh?  I think it needs a name, though.  Any suggestions?

Let’s see, what else… Oh yeah, the weather, more specifically, the rain!  It has been a wonderful month of spring weather.  With the unusual amount of rain we’ve seen over the past month I’ve been reminded of how much I miss rainy weather.  For nearly 5 years I have been slowly forgetting what it’s like to live in wet climate.  I’m certain that the cool, rainy weather wont stick around for too much longer, but I sure am enjoying it while it’s here.  Since it’s been raining so much, I’ve gone out to buy a new book to read.  It’s been great to sit and read and listen to the sound of rain.  Also, the rain has reminded me that if I will have a farm of my own one day, the dry climate of Colorado is not for me.  Because of the small amount of annual rainfall we receive, farmers are forced to rely on irrigation to ensure that the crops are getting all the moisture they need, but the water laws are so ridiculous and the cost for water rights are so expensive it makes it really difficult for a young farmer to secure the water that they need.  I’ve got a few more years before I need to really think about all that stuff, so I’m enjoying the rain while it’s here.