I don't always have the time or energy to make regular postings during the fruit season; here's one I thought shouldn't be missed. Like Fire and Fruit, it speaks to the hard work of growing food:
Sleeping in our van in the parking lot at Rest A While Fruitstand. This farm was owned by Bill and Lois Woods when we first started buying the fruit from here. Their son Tim and his wife Connie also worked here; Tim in the summer months when he was off from teaching school in Brewster, and Connie in the fruitstand bakery creating recipes for all of the fabulous fruit coming in from the trees. The Woods’ had to relocate here after their original farm was flooded by the Columbia River when the Azwell Wells Dam went in. There used to be a photo in the stand of Bill and his Grandfather on that farm; Grandpa was driving the tractor, pulling toddler Bill along in his wagon.
Tim inspired his father to change the farm over the years, working with integrated pest management, then replacing old standard packing house fruit varieties with a more diverse, delicious selection of seasonal fruit from apricots, to cherries, to early peaches, mid-season peaches, late peaches, nectarines, heirloom and gourmet apple varieties. Now the farm belongs to Amy Wu and this year she got her organic certification. Thanks to the Woods' and Amy Wu for keeping this farm alive and producing amazing summer fruit!
How much work goes into the fruit on our tables? How much struggle, love, devotion, perseverance? How often do these questions come to you as you enjoy the bright, fresh flavor of summer sunshine as it fills your palate and drips down your elbow?
Sleeping here at the farm, listening to the wind toss the tree branches, knowing that there is fruit hanging on those branches, being tossed as well, it’s easy to get a sense of what it takes. How much? Only the farmers really know how many hours they spend listening to the weather as it rangles their crops around with wind, rain, hail, drought. They are the ones clocking the hours for pruning, tending, chasing birds; driving fans around the orchards to blow rain of the cherries; watching crops rot on trees from lack of pickers or lack of a price worth paying for the crop to be picked; counting and reporting the number of trees destroyed by unseasonable weather; waiting for the packing houses to pay for the fruit they send them. Only they know the frustration that comes with raising the best crops they can just to have those packers demand a lower price for their efforts. What Michael and I do gives us a small glimpse into their realities, and we in turn share our stories with our customers, because we want them to have a small glimpse as well. We hope it expands their appreciation of the food they get through us, from those farmers who are willing to share the products of their efforts with us.
Think about the food you eat, while you eat it. Consider the number of hands, hours, resources that goes into producing it. Do you know where it comes from, how it was grown and by whom? Do you know that the farmer that grows your favorite old timey apples comes from a family of farmers that stretches back 6, 8, 10 generations? Do you know how rare that is, and how crazy (I mean truly insane) it is that such a thing is a rarity?
I find myself thinking about the Bullet Tree boys in Belize and their wisdom: “Jah provides, but life is work and work is life. Ya mon. Inspiration, more time. Yaaaa!”