Getting Settled

After a whirlwind move we are finally settling in to our new apartment in Easton, MD. We moved in just over a month ago but its been hard to catch my breath, let alone get into a normal routine. We have been doing lots:

The shipping container arrived with nothing broke and everything stayed exactly where we had put it, we should have won an award for our excellent packing skills. There is no space for my farm equipment at our place so my father has graciously allowed me to temporarily store all things farm related at his workshop.

Setting up the apartment and getting the various odds and ends that we need has taken the most energy. I do not enjoy finding a place for everything, I wish it was like in the movies where you open the box and your things just float on over to their rightful place. Unpacking box after box is in progress, we still have to unpack office stuff and wall decor plus my record collection continues to be confined to wine boxes.

 

With all the unpacking and moving-in paperwork we have not forgotten the fun part, checking out the local sights. Boat rides on the bay, exploring the many tiny towns, tasting the local food, and visiting the Atlantic ocean. It has been great to have my parents as tour guides, cause I don’t know where anything is.

Choptank riverboat

Farm fair

Soft shell crabs

Brigantine beach

Also being away from the east coast for over a decade there are certain things we forgot how much we missed like thunderstorms (seriously we sat on the porch and watched it like it was movie), lightning bugs (they make you believe in fairies), green grass in the summertime (water falls from the sky here), warm nights (no need to wear layers) and of course the option to put Old Bay on everything (Maryland restaurant tables have 3 shakers; salt, pepper, and old bay)

Soft shell calms aka longnecks

So over all everything has been going really well moving into Maryland. I’m just ready to know where everything is and to finish unpacking the last of our boxes.

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Packed Up and Ready to Go

We have downsized, gotten rid of stuff, and consolidated as much as we could. Of course it is surprising how many possessions we actually have.

Everything has been packed and too our surprise the moving container had empty space leftover … to think we could have kept more stuff! But as many people told me, it is so refreshing to part with items we are no longer using. It allows you to have a clean slate for your next adventure.

I’m excited and invigorated for the change, it doesn’t feel like a struggle or even stressful it just feels natural, like a change in the seasons.

We have said our goodbyes to Sonoma, but I never look at goodbyes as final, just until we meet again. We will soon begin our journey across the country by train. You can follow along via instagram!

 

Downsizing

This month I have been busy downsizing and getting rid of stuff. I’m amazed at how much stuff both at the farm and in the house, I have accumulated over the past dozen years. I mean I’m not surprise I come from a long line of pack rats (just one side of the family tree not both 😉) As I have been going through my possessions and unearthing things I didn’t even know I had, I was surprise by how quickly I realize that I didn’t need it or even want it anymore. I kinda thought it might be emotional or traumatic but it was so easy to decide that an object was ready to move on.

Beginning of the second day of our garage sale. Now most of this stuff is long gone.

Now I’m no minimalist, I’m still keeping a bunch of stuff. But early on in the downsizing process I had decide that I would only keep things with sentimental value or in regards to the farm, tools and supplies that I had regularly used within the last two years. There has been a few tricky items where it has been tough to decide, do we keep them or do we let them go, the deciding factor is how much of the limited 830 cubic feet of space will that tricky item take up? We are using one moving container to go cross country and everything that wants to enjoy a Maryland lifestyle has gotta fit in that container.

Since I like to research concepts to figure out the “best” way to do something. I spent quite some time on youtube watching video after video of packing tips. With this newly acquired knowledge, I’ve been packing up breakables in lots and lots of packing paper. As well as securely boxing up winter clothes and shoes. We still have about 4 weeks until our actual move day so right now the focus is on packing up stuff we definitely won’t need anytime soon.

Nothing is left at my farm and the house is pretty empty too. It feels like a throwback to college days cause I’m using milk crates as side tables and a few wine boxes as a nightstand. My garage has become the staging ground for the big move with a tape outline of the container space, which is slowly filling with boxes and farm equipment.

 

New Adventure

Over 12 years ago I moved to California with hopes of following my passion for local food systems and working in the field of agriculture. I started off creating edible gardens for restaurants and private estates. I hung around farmers markets to meet producers and fellow local food lovers. When the opportunity to lease land appeared, I jumped at the chance to start my very own farm. Through 10 seasons and many different parcels of land, I honed my farming skills to bring tasty organic produce and seedlings to my community. Through hard work and a bit of luck I was able to achieve my goal of becoming active in the sustainable agricultural scene in the Bay area.

Over the years my passion for agriculture has continued to grow and my dream of becoming a lifelong farmer has never wavered. Farming is a business and when you look at your farm operation as a business you realize how important stability is to your continued success. Without financial sustainability, no farm is truly sustainable.

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I can have a secure farming future. I came to the realization that I can’t continue to farm in California on leased property and as a farmer I can’t afford to own land here. This July I will be moving back east to Maryland, where I have the ability to purchase farmland.  I will begin farming again in 2019 on the Eastern Shore.

It is bittersweet to leave the west coast where I refined my farming skills and where I have met so many wonderful people (including my husband). But I am excited to return to my home state to start a new farm and continue my agriculture adventure!

I will continue to make blog posts along the way and share my new discoveries so keep reading and keep in touch. If you are more of a picture person, follow my adventure on instagram.

Spring Work

Spring is here … or maybe summer I’m actually wearing shorts as I type this, hello 80 degree weather. This spring my workload looks a little different. I’m not sweating it out in the greenhouse but staring it out, at the computer screen.

I have been developing client’s 2018 crop plans, which involves meeting with them to discuss their vision for their farm or garden as well as determining their must haves, when it comes to produce harvest. After the meeting I spend time with spreadsheets calculating their seed and plant need, I figure out their seed and transplant order, then create their planting schedule, and draw up their crop map. All of this gives each of my clients a detailed plan of what to buy, how to prepare, when to plant, and an estimated date for their first harvest of each of their crops.

I have also completed my taxes … yay. Like most people preparing one’s taxes is a drag. But this year it went a lot quicker because I did I really good job of keeping up on my bookkeeping during the 2017 growing season. And I don’t naturally think “Oh, lets enter invoices instead of watching another episode of <insert favorite TV show>”. So to make sure I recorded my sales, expenses, and deductions in a timely manner, I created a daily habits tracker which included bookkeeping. When I completed the task I rewarded myself with a sticker … that’s right a sticker! Hey, what works to motivate preschoolers also works for 30-somethings.

With spring weather comes the urge for spring cleaning. I have sorted through my seed bins removing expired seeds and cataloging the remaining packets. I have been purging random farm supplies that I have been keeping for years even though I have not used them years. I have even taken the time to try to organize my office getting rid of old papers and filing others away, so I can actually find them when I need them. Even though I’m not busy mowing and tilling my field, there is something about spring that just motivates you to get ready and prepare for the coming year.

Get Outside

Since I’m not farming this year I have realized that I’m spending a lot of time inside. Working on the computer, reading books, organizing farm supplies, and other random indoor activities. This sedentary work is not new I have always spent plenty of time indoors during February. But the difference this year is I don’t have the farm work to force me to go outside. This might seem like a no-brainer but I just didn’t realize that without my normal farm work, I would not be automatically getting fresh air and exercise.

reflection pond

Quarryhill Botanical Garden

My close friends know I don’t consider myself an “outdoorsy person” never doing an activity that requires physical effort unless the farm required it, I would never join a gym or make time to go exercise. But between all the computer work and this ridiculously sunny warm weather we have been having, my body has been aching to get outside and move around. So recently I started listening to the demands of my body and making time to go outside for long walks and even a few hikes. I’m still not gonna join a gym but I have begun to schedule exercise into my week.

sonoma valley

Overlooking Sonoma Valley

Another Season is Done

Now that it’s the end of the season it seems like eons ago that I was getting the field ready for the beginning of the growing season. Even though it was just 10 months ago that I was starting tomato seeds in the greenhouse and about 7 months ago that I was planting popcorn kernels in the field. Now everything has been mowed down or has been killed by the frost.

Tomato field past its prime

The growing season is always a whirlwind but it still has an undeniable rhyme. With the arrival of spring the daylight grows, egging you on to become more active and get outside to work. The heat of summer pushes everything to grow big and lush including your energy level. Fall shows up colorful but exhausted, encouraging you to slow down. Then winter with its cold short days shoos you inside to stay cozy and inspires you to reflect. Even though I may fight these seasonal urges at first, I quickly give in because it is exactly what my body is demanding my mind to do.

Popcorn field through the seasons

So as winter approaches, it’s officially 10 days away, I have started to review the growing season, celebrating my achievements and figuring out how to better address the challenges.

Don’t Forget About the Drip Tape

The final harvest from the farm happened weeks ago but there is still work to be done out there. Before the field can be put to bed for the season, the irrigation must be removed. All the drip tape that runs the length of every bed must be picked up. After providing crops with months and month of water the drip tape is now pretty much covered in weeds.

So for me, drip tape removal involves a lot of pulling and dragging, not my favorite activity, but it’s gotta be done. If you leave the drip irrigation in the field over winter it will disappear, until you go to mow or rototill and then it gets stuck in all your equipment.

Drip tape ready to be recycled

Unfortunately removing drip tape is a much slower task than it is to install it in the spring. So between the rainy days, the labor involved in removing irrigation, and my love for procrastinating tasks I dislike; it may be sometime before the field gets cleaned up this season.

Commemorating the Season

Thursday was a day filled with food, family, and friends. For me, Thanksgiving has always been a celebration of food.

During the days leading up to the big feast I search for all the ingredients both in my field, at neighboring farms, local grocery stores, and the farmers market. Every time I thought I had everything I needed I realized something was missing, so back to the store I went. With a kitchen stuffed with seasonal ingredients plus some avocados for a little guacamole, we were ready. We spent all Thursday preparing food for the big feast. It was all hands on deck with everyone lending their various skills to help make a delicious meal.

It is a family tradition to start the day with mimosas, ceviche, and guacamole.

As a farmer I look at Thanksgiving as a commemoration of the year’s bounty both in food and in friendship. Sitting together at a long table passing bowls and platters overflowing with deliciousness, we reminisce about the last time we all got together as a family. Chatter quickly fills the room that is already bursting with delectable food, amusing people, and love.

My dad and I at the pre-Thanksgiving farmers market