See you Saturday!

I am pleased to share that we will be starting our 2023 marketing season, and we will be back on Highway 2 East this Saturday!  We will be open from 10am to 3pm.  I hope you can come down to say hello!

It’s always exciting, and a big relief to start selling regularly again.  At this point in the season we’ve spent a small fortune and are waiting on some of that sweet sweet Return On Investment.  This aspect of business is, of course, analogous to what we do in the garden: we plant seeds with confidence, then invest a ton of time and energy on them, and then the real challenge… waiting for the harvest.

At this time of year, we’re watching a lot of plants growing as fast as they can to get their blooms open for the birds and the bees. Daffodils, Hyacinth, Tulips  – even the Dandelions – are all putting on a show for us.  How are they able to grow so fast, when everything else seems to be growing so slow?  The answer is underground.

Those bulbs and tap roots are banks of energy, which was photosynthesized and stored as starch and sugar the season before (this is why the squirrels won’t have mercy on your tulips).  These batteries of calories are what allows those spring beauties to so rapidly do their thing: when otherwise there is not the ambient temperatures for such rapid growth.

We’re fortunate that we don’t really have to start each spring as wee baby seeds.  Our customers are our bulbs and taproots.  A surprising amount of you have already purchased CSA Boxes and invested in our Farmstand Cards.  This out of season cashflow is a boon to our business and makes a great deal of what we do possible.  So thank you very much for your confidence and patience!  Now that we’re set up to sell, it’s your chance to get a harvest.

Every year, as we gradually grow our little farm, we end up handling larger and larger amounts of money (your money), and although I can’t say we really make a whole lot more (starting a farm from scratch is shockingly expensive) it does take a bit of nerve to look at some of those numbers. Inflation and commodity prices haven’t helped, and I have had to learn to passively accept whatever outrageous bill I am presented with, and trust that God is in control of all things.  It certainly gets me out of bed in the morning!

It’s very tempting for me to not grow our business.  To shrink it, even.  If I sold everything I have payments on, and scaled back every aspect of our farm, I could probably make enough for our family to scrape by on with a team of horses and a few acres of high value produce.  The problem with that notion is that although this would be extremely low stress, it would be a squandering of potential.

Salt of the Earth Farm is to a large extent a personal reaction to the low quality, homogenized and seemingly meaningless materialist culture in which we are saturated.  Maybe I’m just overly sensitive, but it angers and disorients me that we live in world where it’s hard to find a good loaf of bread, many people derive no pleasure or purpose from their work, and the commercial monoculture makes it impossible to tell where you are even geographically located…

This is obviously England:

And although the climate and building materials are extremely similar, this is clearly Japan:

And this is… ambiguously *somewhere* on the continent of North America between Alaska and Florida:

One of the most perplexing things about the past 200 years is that as beautiful and soothing as those traditional landscapes are, 9/10 people jumped at the chance to leave them to participate in industrial consumer culture.  Several generations into that transition, we’re now reaping First World Problems: existential malaise, plummeting fertility and a plethora of new and bizarre physical and mental health problems like obesity and autism.  But I’m going off on a tangent here… Focus Charles…

Agriculture is, for me, the means by which I can offer something that is tangibly good with my life. I want to generate substance, and share it with others.  Naturally, I want to do this as much as possible.  So that means growth.  Some of my fellow small is beautiful contingent repeat the hilarious and insightful author Edward Abbey‘s axiom that “growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”.   For better or worse, it’s true of all nature.  Just ask a tree.  Big is winning, and if we want an alternative, we can’t just hide out like a crocus.

To carry the tree analogy further: the longer a tree lives, and the larger and more established it becomes, the greater it’s capacity to provide habitat for other organisms.  The mushrooms on it’s roots, the moss on it’s bark, the birds in it’s branches, the badger in it’s trunk, the caterpillars on it’s leaves, and the bees in it’s flowers.  The tree creates opportunities.

This is what I want to see from our farm.  First of all, as a home for my family, and secondly as way for myself and my children to earn a living.  But it becomes very interesting when I look beyond my immediate clan. 

We’ve been quite a few young peoples’ “first real job” over the years, and I’ve watched them develop physical strength, mental fortitude, and a bit of perspective on how the world works. Two of our former employees have gone on to start their own commercial farming ventures – not that I am responsible for that, but I am very proud to be a part of their journey.  And who can forget Suzanne…. where would I be without Suzanne?  She moved here from the GTA not too long ago, but she probably knows more people in the East End of Kingston than anyone!

For Morgan and I, the relationships we have made over the past decade nearly all come back to Salt of the Earth. Our friends and social network are largely the customers and working relationships that the farm relies on.  When I see these connections transfer and grow and multiply I get quite excited, because out of these, who knows what might happen next?  I’ve written this before, but I feel the greatest success in our mission when down at the farmstand, I’ll witness people who have lived down the street from each other for years finally introduce themselves and start a conversation. 

For whatever reason, that just does not happen in the self-checkout at Walmart.  Why exactly that is, is hard to put your finger on, but it can somehow be somewhat summed up by those pictures of England, Japan, and what looks like Division Street at the 401 (actually Breezewood, Pennsylvania).   The immense momentum of the The Strip is seemingly irresistible, but it’s really just big and loud and in our face.  The small and quiet alternative, however, is something that we need to go out of our way to cultivate and I appreciate you making that investment in our farm.  See you at the stand on Saturday!

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