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JOURNAL #10 FARMING DURING A PANDEMIC May 30, 2020

Posted 5/29/2020 11:08am by Esther.

JOURNAL #10

FARMING DURING A PANDEMIC

May 30, 2020

Michael Tabor

This winter "break", starting January 2020, didn't turn out well for any of us.  And, it seems like we're again ready to start the markets again- but at 77 years old, I wonder if I'm ready for another intense, even more intense season.  But, Esther has been taking part in all the safety networking to make sure the markets are ready for us to open this Tuesday (June 2) in Brookland and Saturday, (June 6) in Adams Morgan.  We're still working with the community market people in Anacostia to see if a market starting in July is workable.

Inspired by my arrest this winter at Jane Fonda's Firedrill Friday, we didn't want to take any trips by plane (excessive carbon exchange) so instead we visited with friends in Ohio and Kentucky, seeking connections with Jewish peddlers, the underground railroad and trying to volunteer with the Amy McGrath campaign (she has a chance!).  And then, local politics and now we're ready, except for the horrible weather for markets and of course, the pandemic.

On the positive side, Charmaine is managing things on the farm in her usual organized manner and Justin has been making the fields ready.  three wonderful farm staff, Emma, back again with her adorable dog, Utah, Xandra, before resuming her U Of MD degree, and Laura, from Brooklyn, are in great shape for the hard work of farming.

Expenses on the farm can be overwhelming.  Just found out we need a third irrigation pump for the early crop of tomatoes, broccoli, kale, squash, etc.  That's $450-500 or more.  Organic compost trailer load was $940.  Two truck inspections and repairs (we have 5) was over $500.  Costs for the "alternative" sprays are well over $1,000.  New equipment was over $3,000. 

Sometimes, inspired by staff, we (they) also spend their own money on items they feel will help with their work.  They watched a podcast from the world's leading chiropterologist, Merlin Tuttle on how each bat can eat up to 1,200 pests in one night!  So Justin and crew built a bat cave that can house up to 50 bats (eating 60,000 injurious insects each night!).  We've got plenty of the critters hanging around the farm already, so why not invite more!

 

I'm not complaining about expenses - it's what we have every year not counting salaries, taxes, insurance, food, etc.  What makes a difference is that Esther and I don't draw salary. 

We're pulling together a list of what we'll have for the first markets starting next week - we're still harvesting asparagus - although probably not enough for all the CSAs. Lettuce looks ready for market.  This warm weather might cause the broccoli plants to "head".  Kale, spinach, scallions and a few other greens look like they're ready along with mint, chives and a few other herbs (anyone want nettle?  good for tea). 

The strawberry crop was damaged but there's still plenty.  Plus, the last of the stored fall apples - Fuji's really hold up well.  And our neighbor, Donald Lake, has lots of exotic organic mushrooms.  Donald was part of the now out-of-business Tuscarora Organic Co-op.  And, we'll have plenty of Amish made jams and jellies - blackberry, strawberry, quince, mint, apple, and our own honey.

Our CSA subscriptions this season have tripled and is now closed for Session 1 (June/July).  And we are pleased to announce that our CSA Subsidy Program now has 23 families.  We still need over $12,000 to cover the rest of the season for the families.  If you want to donate, we have several methods and one tax-exempt way, so get in touch with us at esiegel2@igc.org.

Here is what one of the nurses is is in the CSA Subsidy Program wrote us:

“I spoke to Jimena (not her real name) on the phone, asking about her symptoms. Fever, body aches, headache for several days. There was no question in my mind… Covid-19.  I wished I could assess her breathing status and to do so, I asked her to talk to me while walking around her one bedroom apartment where she lives with her three children and husband. Listening to her speak in Spanish did not reveal gasps of breath between her words, relieved that for the time being she could stay home.  Social distancing, isolation, accessing the healthcare system---all barriers faced by Jimena. Born in Mexico, business owner, tax payer, uninsured,  undocumented and fearful of going to the hospital.  How will I pay for it? What if there’s no interpreter?  How can I isolate in my apartment when we all share the same room?  What will happen to me?”

The CSA Subsidy Program is our small way, with your generous support, to ensure that our first responders and essential service providers have access to fresh, chemical-free vegetables and fruit every week.

 
FARM VISIT DAY, SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2020 11:00AM - 4:30PM (cancelled for this season)