- Head Lettuce
- Garlic Scapes
- Dry Beans
A common sight out at the farm over the last week or so has been farmers with sweat streaming down their faces: Lift up arm, wipe brow, lower arm, carry on… and repeat. A bit robotic—you could call it the summer ritual of the field worker. It’s hard to see what you’re doing when you have sweat in your eyes, and when you’ve run out of dry places on your shirt with which to soak up moisture, that’s when you have to either take a break or start getting creative.
However, the best thing to do in the heat of the day, when it’s in the 90’s and you’ve already lost one bucket… going on two, is to blow off work for a few hours and go to THE RIVER! It’s the only responsible thing to do when the mercury rises above ninety-five and your wardrobe is taking on water.
We managed to steal away from the farm to our favorite swimming hole for a few such hours this weekend. Being farmers, we talked about things like the weather and drought. Glad that we were able to keep the irrigation lines running while we took our short reprieve, this early heat wave made us realize how vulnerable our farm would be if we did not have a seemingly limitless supply of water below our feet. We had been running lines almost non-stop all week, to keep the plants from becoming moisture stressed. Hot weather is difficult this time of year because the plants are still small, which means their roots are still shallow. They can’t reach the water down deep where it’s safe from evaporation.
Our clear dependence on ample water made us think of California and the situation those farmers must be in. We had heard that folks are transitioning away from growing vegetables and into less water intensive crops. Since California produces a majority of the nation’s fresh produce, this tendency is already having wide-ranging effects: driving up food prices. According to the president of the California Farm Bureau, Paul Wenger, his agency has “conservatively projected that the average American family will spend about $500 more on food this year because of the drought, but with what we are hearing from farmers, we expect that number to go up.”
It’s a sad situation, but we can imagine the position those farmers are in. If you have a farm full of vegetables on a hot day at the end of a searing week, and you don’t have water… you better start planting something else or looking for another profession.
We are currently in a drought year here in the Valley. The snowpack was almost nonexistent this year—at record-low levels. It’s shaping out to be another hot summer with the area of warm water in the gulf of Alaska, titled “the blob”, still in place (the same blob that lead our warmest summer on record, last year).
The farm will be fine this year, and we will have plenty of water for the years to come; but on a ninety-six degree day in early June, with California in mind, no snowpack, a field of tender vegetables, and a hot summer ahead, a farmer begins to think about the future—thankful that that river is still flowing, keeping our swimming hole full, our bodies cool, and our plants growing.
A river is a not a bad place to be on an eyebrow-singeing hot day. It’s a great place to avoid the heat, plunge into the life-giving water, and meditate on the coming challenges that you may face.
We hope you enjoy this week’s vegetables.