One day in early July, I realized we were in trouble. Our electric cultivation (aka weed killing) tractor was more broken than we thought -- ground faults everywhere, potentiometer acting all screwy. The weeds on the other had were not broken. The weeds in our quarter acre of winter squash were notably unbroken and had been growing so rapidly during our tractor troubleshooting that mechanical cultivation became impossible. Ironic. We needed help. We needed grit and agricultural experience.
Enter the Graton Day Labor Center. We're lucky to live close to a one-of-a-kind worker led non-profit that "organizes with domestic workers and day laborers in west Sonoma County, CA for the advancement of their rights and dignity as workers, as immigrants, and as members of the broader community." The workers there have organized so that everyone is paid decently ($15/hour is baseline) and everyone knows their rights. And needless to say, there is a wealth of agricultural experience there.
I made an appointment and the following morning, Sebastian and Alexandra showed up at 7am. We got to talking a bit. Both in their 20's, Sebastian had come to Santa Rosa as a boy, the son of Mexican immigrants. Alexandra, from Kazakstan, had come to the states via Mexico. She spoke Spanish fluently and had been in the U.S. for a month.
Over the course two 95 degree days, Alexandra and Sebastian rescued our winter squash planting. Their skill and care was obvious from the start. They were thorough and took care not to harm the fragile squash stems and blossoms as they removed the two foot tall, deeply rooted weeds surrounding the plants (easier said than done).
Naturally, Sebastian and Alexandra's presence on the farm made me think of the current political "discourse" around immigrants. For Kayta and I, it is impossible separate this conversation from people we know and the work we love because Latin American immigrants are the backbone of agriculture in Sonoma County and beyond. They run the vineyards, manage the lands, tend and harvest our food up and down North America.
One reason we like the CSA model is that it brings eaters into closer connection with where their food comes from and how it comes to be. To us this feels like one helpful antidote for a culture that participates little in its food production, and is therefore sometimes able to think little of the people who do it.
So, we wanted to give Sebastian and Alexandra and their work a little shout out here. Every time Kayta and I look at the plump, happy baby winter squash filling out under a clean canopy of squash leaves, we think of them and their critical contribution to our season. And we'll all have them to thank for every bite of sweet winter squash this Fall.
See you in the fields,
David & Kayta
THIS WEEK'S HARVEST: Heirloom Tomatoes, New Girl Slicing Tomatoes, San Marzano Type Sauce Tomatoes, Italian Eggplant, Summer Squash (Italian Zucchini, Crookneck and Patty Pan), Striped Armenian & Lemon Cucumbers, Galia Melons, Fennel, Cauliflower, Radishes, Savoy Cabbage, Beets, Carrots, Bok Choi, Red Russian Kale, Arugula, Mustard Greens Mix, Muir Summer Crisp and Red Little Gem Head Lettuces
U-PICK in the GARDEN:
- Herbs: Genovese Italian Basil, Cilantro, Savory, Onion Chives, Parsley, Sage, Oregano, Dill, Thymes, Mints, Sorrel, Chamomile, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, Anise Hyssop
- Cut flowers: Dahlias (limit 3 per season per share), Celosia, Craspedia, Cosmos, Nasturtium, Bachelor's Buttons, Zinnias, Calendula, Snapdragons, Red Spike Amaranth, Sunflowers, Love-in-a-Mist
- Frying peppers: Shishitos, Black Hungarian, Padrones, Jalapeños
- Husk Cherries aka Ground Cherries aka Cape Gooseberries: These are a delightful sweet little nightshade berries wrapped inside a cool little "wrapper". Kids love them. Just peel the papery wrapper off and eat! Husk Cherries are ripe when the wrapper is golden. (Green = unripe). Look low down under the canopy of leaves for the ripe ones.
U-PICK on the FARM:
- Cherry tomatoes: Sungolds, Black Cherry, and Super Sweet 100's in three Rows marked with the blue flags in the main fields.
- Wild Blackberries: Two epic patches along the fence on the far side of our main fields (behind the winter squash and potatoes). Marked with pink flags. Let us know if you need help locating them!