Spring's New Beginnings

Spring arrived teeming with the promise of new life. The calf count had jumped to eleven when I was last on the farm a few days ago, and the dairy crew has been alternating between soft drinks and sports teams for name themes.

The farm has also recently welcomed two new people into its family. Greg's son Kiran is a few months old now, and I've learned from the photos that fill Greg's phone when he admits to his better half that the day has been trying, that Kiran is happy, healthy, and adorable. Gotta love the information age, when new family photograph cheer-ups are only moments away. Greg tells me Kiran has been demonstrating the power of the 'Mozart effect,' though with an inherited preference for the dulcet tones of Jerry Garcia.

Marie has been on leave from the farm these past few weeks, as she cares for her new daughter Anaelle. Paul visited her recently, and assured me that she is a beautiful and healthy baby. Catarina, Jana, and Nolan seem to be weathering Marie's absence in the creamery just fine, but they will no doubt welcome the return of Marie's productive force when she and Anaelle are ready, especially with the milk production now steadily increasing.

The joy and pride of new parents is wonderfully contagious.

Much thanks to Nicole for sharing so many great photos from the dairy crew.

Seeing Rafael--who was mobile but pre-verbal when I first arrived on the farm, dutifully tagging along on his older brothers' adventures--welcome new cattle into the world serves as a poignant reminder of how vivid and broad a community the farm truly is. If it takes a village, this is quite the village.

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The vegetable crew is also bringing new life to the farm, albeit less doe-eyed and cute:

The propagation greenhouse is filling up quickly.

A week later the onions had progressed dramatically, and more trays have arrived for Pendleton to water. The plastic wall at the end of these tables went up to isolate this:

A persistent tear at the back of the propagation greenhouse that has been defying patching attempts. Greg ruminated on the possibility of a full plastic swap, which would mean all three of the greenhouses would get recovered this year.

The third greenhouse is looking great after the crew got it covered on a calm evening this past week. It has been planted with salad greens, whose growth should be evident by my next visit, and whose yields will be most welcome in the CSA shares in a few weeks.

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New beginnings aren't found only in living forms, however. The ultimate goal of the farm is to share the bounty wrought by its vivid community with people elsewhere, which requires operations and systems that can always be improved. To this end, the Mahoneys recently hosted a discussion about Brookford Farm's CSA with contributing members, some of the farm staff, and even a few prospective members.

It began with a potluck, a delicious culmination of the fruits of so much labor both on and off the farm.

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What better way to get the creative juices flowing on the subjects of community, support, and agriculture? We were off on the right foot.

We broke into smaller groups to gather ideas.

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And reconvened to share our conclusions. It was a productive first step toward some systemic improvements to the service of the farm's most vital customers; we all look forward to the next gathering.

Among the many subjects discussed was the opportunity for exploration and education provided by a farm as diverse as Brookford. This was still on my mind the following week, when my wife and I decided to take a field trip with the nieces we were babysitting that afternoon.

We were lucky to find Paul shuffling calves around after feeding out the nurse cows. This afforded us the opportunity to have some young questions answered, and the ever-popular petting of baby critters.

The hens seemed excited to meet more two-leggers like themselves.

It was an exciting experience for the kiddos, one that brought lots of great questions, fond memories, and some fun photos to share with the family.  The farm has several scheduled events throughout the year that would make for similarly great learning opportunities for kids. But with some advanced coordination with staff, educational visits (a school group, scout troop, 4H, etc) should be possible to work into the regular mix, and are highly recommended. It's never too soon to start learning about where our food comes from.

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While we wait for spring to hit its stride and once again bring sunrises to misty green fields like this one Jen captured last year:

The farm makes evident the beauty of transitions and new beginnings so abundant this time of year, giving us patience for the few more weeks of wet cold weather that remain.  

Here's hoping your spring is off to a start as great as the farm's.

All the best,

Matt