Everyone would like to be an organic farmer, what with the sun-kissed skin, mountain views over tomato rows, rolled-up sleeves and earth-covered hands that the life affords you. Sounds like a nice gig for new waves of DIYers, homesteaders and hipsters; that is, until one realizes the realities of waking up at 5:45 a.m. and racing the sun to spend seven hot July hours weeding. Now, that’s an honest day’s work.
This was my first summer farming at Bell Organic Gardens in Draper. David and Jill Bell grow an outstanding product, one that, this year, I helped plant, weed, harvest, peel, wash and distribute for about 20 hours a week. Planting three miles of tomato vines or uncovering eggplants from jungle-thick weed clusters can be backbreaking work. However, paying attention to nature’s cycles is more rewarding than most other paychecks.
One particular seed-to-sandwich lunch around the first harvest was especially memorable. I brought two pieces of homemade bread and filled them with picked-on-the-spot tomato, cucumber, basil, onion and other veggies. That’s fresh. It’s awesome seeing folks at Community Supported Agriculture pickups walk away with boxes full of our produce, after answering the occasional, “What’s that?” and “How’s it prepared?” Well, that’s chard, that’s kohlrabi (or whatever), and all you need to do is stir-fry it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Also, seeing the plating of our produce at restaurants that buy from Bell—such as Lugano, Fresco and Meditrina—is spectacular.
While not everyone is cut out to work the land, there are still opportunities for them to connect with their food. Most local farms appreciate volunteers and give produce in return. Either way, my season is over, winter’s coming, and, like most farmers I know, it’s time to lose my tan, get fat and drink whiskey.
BELL ORGANIC GARDENS