Sunday, July 15, 2007

Peas on Earth

I have picked a lot of peas in the past two days; consequently, I’ve had a lot of time in the hot sun to think. In keeping with my nascent yoga practice, I was trying to be fully present in what I was doing. So, I had a lot of time, in the sun, thinking about picking peas. I learned some lessons about picking peas that might even be relevant to other things. I’ll leave that up to you to decide. (Remember, I was in the hot sun.)

Sometimes the thickest tangle conceals the most rewards. The trick is to
be willing to pull apart the vines to see the fruit.

Make time to
put up the trellis. Having your supports in place before you need them
makes the job much easier later on.

Use as many of your senses as
possible. Sight, touch and even hearing help to find the pod that is

Take time to reward yourself. A few pea pods, fresh
off the vine help to remind me that a difficult job is

It’s always helpful to look at things from a different
angle. No matter how thorough I think I’ve been, when I look at the same plant
from a different place I’m almost always rewarded with a few more pods.

A corollary to the rule above: Someone else will always see
peas you missed. It never hurts to get a second opinion.

Know when to say when. Walking back through the row, there are always peas that were missed. It’s important to know when to call a seemingly endless job done enough for today!


Because farming is an annual endeavor, each year we have the opportunity to review what we’ve done and make improvements to our business model. Since Jody and I both thrive on change this is a great fit for us. The flip side of this however, is that we tend to want to do, and change, and add too much. There are so many great ideas and so many directions we want to take our business it’s like a huge buffet, and we’re tempted to take a taste of everything. We’ve learned though, I hope, not to put more on our plates than we can handle. When we start talking about all the wonderful opportunities, we have to remind ourselves what our goals really are.
Our objectives are twofold; sustainability and wealth.
Sustainable means something that can continue to grow and thrive. It doesn’t increase at the cost of depleting something else. Because sustainable is part of our business’ name -Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm- we are often asked about it. This past summer Jody came up with a great, succinct way to explain what sustainable means to our business. It means that our farm is a complete system. With the exception of seed, and some raw material for compost, we don’t add outside inputs. Chemical fertilizers and pest control aren’t used. Sustainable also means that we sell food at its true cost; it isn’t deflated by government subsidies or inflated by middlemen. Related to that, it means that we wish to make a living wage off our products. We work hard on the farm and should be able to support our family with that work. Finally, sustainable means leaving this land to our children in better condition than when we began.
Wealth is the other objective for which we strive. That word also requires a bit of definition. My favorite definition of wealth comes from that unequaled source of wisdom: the email signature line. A good friend has this statement under her email signature, “True wealth is a network of mutually beneficial, interconnected relationships.” I love that definition of wealth because it is sustainable. Our wealth doesn’t increase at the cost of someone else’s. It isn’t a zero sum game. This kind of wealth has little to do with money. That has its place too, but it is part of sustainability. We enjoy this kind of wealth regularly on our farm. We have many volunteers who come every week, work hard, share a meal, take home a box of vegetables and thank us for the opportunity. They think that they are getting the better end of the deal and so do we. We work in cooperation with other small organic farms to the benefit of both. We continue to build this kind of wealth throughout our community.
These are the goals that we try to keep in mind as we choose from the buffet of opportunities. This is the foundation we try to build on in our family and our business.