Friday, August 31, 2007


We're just at the end of the melon season.. here'r some photos from one of the harvests:




Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 24, 2007

More Photos

Clearly I'm too tired to write anything these days.. so photos will have to do...


Washing Turnip

Rock Melon

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Currently Harvesting...

Oops, I've let that list slide a bit. The past couple of weeks have been all about the harvests really. We're now harvesting zucchini and cucumber three times a week (monday, wednesday, and friday) along with our usual harvests on tuesday, thursday, and friday.

This passed week was a great week, with a few different crops becoming ready, and in enough proportions, that we could bring them to the CSA dropoffs and market. So, from the top, here's what is currently being harvested:

  • Melons. But you knew that.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Green Peppers.
  • Zucchini. This includes the familiar green or yellow sort, plus other sorts of summer squash: patty pan, and crook neck.
  • Cucumber.
  • Lettuce.
  • Green/Yellow/Purple Beans.
  • Carrots.
  • Onions.
  • Beets.
  • Potatoes.
  • Garlic.
  • Parsley.
  • Cilantro.
  • Basil.
  • Dill.
We also managed to harvest some corn on Friday, but Ali felt it was too unevenly pollinated and pesty to bring to market or to the CSA.

Cantaloupe, corn, different sorts of tomatoes, fennel, chard, and green onions are all in the near future.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Dignity of Manual Labour

Here's a little exchange I had with a friend of mine over email recently about returning to the city for school and that sort of life in the next few weeks:

Me: I think we're all looking forward to the winter simply for the chance to slow down a bit.

Him: Heh -- *your* winter isn't going to slow down at all, lad ;-)

Yeah, I'm certainly aware of that. Although I think I'll enjoy being able to lay down at night and not have my body hurt. ;-P

Him: The dignity of manual labor wearing a little thin? ;-)

The dignity of labor. It's an album by the Human League, but knowing this fellow, it's a phrase that has some historical import. Can anyone point me to something which describes it?

There's a lot going on in that last line of his, isn't there? The phrase "the dignity of manual labour" suggests to me the idea that manual labour isn't inherently dignified, or often seen as dignified, but that also in some ways it actually is... you know, the whole shtick about "a life of quiet contemplation, a job in the fresh air, hard labor" (see other comments on that blog post for more examples). It's as if manual labour is both seen as something undignified -- maybe because you get dirty or sweaty whilst doing it? -- and simultaneously honest and wholesome.

The thought that the dignity of manual labour could be wearing thin suggests that seeing manual labour as dignified is illusory; that whilst one might believe the labour is honest and wholesome, in reality it isn't (maybe even suggesting that it isn't either, it just is).

Personally I find it irrelevant to think about the dignity of work in such generalities. I'm sure -- wait, I know -- a lot of manual labour is soul sucking and awful (sweat shops, in the extreme). But so is a lot of white collar work (see the song "In Tall Buildings", sung by Gillian Welch, or the movie Office Space). The work I'm doing at the farm is manual labour and happens to be wonderful and something I'm proud of, and certainly something I could see anyone doing with honest dignity. But so was the work I was doing in Toronto as a computer programmer working to revamp a reporting system for a not-for-profit health-care insurance company.

I suppose I could turn slippery and suggest that the dignity of the work really depends on how you view it -- that any job could be dignified if you take pride in it, and such. I could do that, but I think when we talk about "the dignity of manual labour" we're talking about the general societal impression of manual labour, not one's own feelings about one's work. I suppose what I'm saying above is simply that dignity can probably be found in many types of work, manual or otherwise, and so can undignified work. In part I think it does depend on how you think of yourself in the job. If you think your job is soul-sucking and awful then I doubt that job is going to be seen as generally a dignified job. But I think the dignity of a job also comes from how you are treated as a human being, how you treat yourself, and how you treat others while doing the job. If your job requires you to do damage to yourself or others, or you are damaged because of it, then it's hard to see it as dignified.

But that's all for now. I'm off to take a nap.

Weather and Picking Green Beans

Today was the usual Friday harvest routine. Only, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Before I started working with farmers I never really gave thought to why we have this stereotype of farmers always talking about the weather. I mean, I suppose I knew it had to do with their concern for their crops and all. And it does, but I suspect it also has to with being outside so darn much. Compared to living in the city, the weather gets so much more of our attention during a day. I mean, we're constantly feeling the sun or the wind, seeing the clouds pass, putting on or taking off clothing and hats, and gauging how the rest of the day will unfold. Because it's on our minds all day it just naturally becomes something we think and talk about. I reckon it's just like in high-school, where the image is of high-schoolers' conversation dominated by gossip about other students; for farmers, weather is gossip.

So what does absolutely gorgeous weather mean to me? Well, it means 23 C (23.5 C in Newfoundland), sunny and partly cloudy with 20 km winds from the north. With a good night's sleep at my back I could probably work an entire day and still feel up for more. At least, that's how I feel today.

Today we started picking green beans. Picking these guys is very much like picking peas, in the sense that it's relatively slow (compared to the other crops), and requires careful attention to find the beans amongst the clutter of leaves and stalks. It's also not as gustatorally entertaining because eating green beans raw gets really old, really fast.

I spent an hour or two yesterday searching for recipes for the next CSA newsletter. I came across the idea of roasting green beans with garlic and oil and salt. "Ugly Green Beans" the website called them. Yum. I'm really looking forward to trying them.