We had a big day of weeding, thinning and planting yesterday, and got a lot of work done quickly. It’s always great to see what a whole group of people can get done rapidly. I have no idea about the rest of the country, but I know in the northwest, the Washington Young Farmer’s Coalition frequently organizes crop mobs, where a bunch of people show up and get work done on one farm in exchange for a meal, entertainment, education, whatever. It’s a good way to get a lot of work done fast, and a good way to socialize and, to brutalize this post by discussing the harsh realities of capital, a good way to network. More importantly though, it’s a community coming together in an act of solidarity to do something that doesn’t directly benefit them.
That gets at the most important thing about food production in the United States right now— it’s anti-human. We spend vast quantities of federal money and fossil fuels in order to produce insanely, magnificently gigantic quantities of commodity crops which are genetically modified and grown with a total reliance on poison, which we then process further in labs and ship to grocery superstores across the country where people are paid minimum wage to sell “food”. Yes, yes, queue the anti-capitalist wingnut rant about food production and America. There’s no need to go further into it. The point is, we’re growing and selling and eating and trying to keep ourselves alive with a product that is totally alienated from human beings. Surely, there is some other option.
Well, we’re trying. Not just us, but every small farm, every backyard gardener, everyone with a community garden plot or a CSA share. We’re growing, buying and eating food on a human level, and reclaiming our lives ever so slightly from the grip of the megamachine.
So when a group of people turns up to weed on a rainy day, that’s a celebratory thing! It’s a group of people who care about what they’re eating and where it’s coming from, and care about participating in the exchange between humans and soil and plants. That’s community, and it’s the backbone of small scale agriculture. It takes a village to raise a crop, maybe. Or at least to tilt at windmills with any hope of winning.
This week, the corn and calendula are up in nice pretty rows, the war on slugs is turning truly brutal, and the main plot is entirely full of plants. We planted out some sunflowers and the delicata squash on Sunday, and thinned and weeded about a half-dozen other things, as well as hilling potatoes. This weekend, we’ll hopefully be trellising tomatoes and starting the three sisters planting in the corn patch, and also weeding the last of the raised beds. Harvesting this week: Spinach, salad, garlic scapes, kale, chard, snap peas and green onions. It’s finally feeling like we’re out of the lean season.