I listen to a podcast regularly that is put out by a small farm in upstate New York. I have been listening from the beginning so even though I’m well over a hundred episodes in I’m still not caught up. Recently (in my listening, not in their posting) they said “just because you can garden doesn’t mean you can run a CSA, although it does give you a leg up”. HOW TRUE.
Sometimes I know exactly why I did this, jump in head first into farming and providing food for people. It’s definitely the best way to learn, as I am taking to heart and thoughtfully considering every single decision that I make. It is also the best way to make sure I am held accountable, so that I am working just as hard at this (harder) than I have worked at every full time job I’ve held. Beyond that I truly thought i was capable. I did so much research, so much planning. I wrote a detailed business plan and set up excel spreadsheets of what to plant when.
And then sometimes it is hard for me to feel capable and I chide myself for not realizing how different growing things in North Carolina is than Florida. I still belong to some Florida gardening Facebook groups and they have been eating well for months. I was so confident that what I planted would be big and ready by now. I should be serving broccoli and peas and squash and cabbage and beets, in my head. But weeks of rain and clouds, temperamental temperatures, and soil made almost entirely from clay have really slowed things down – if not halted some things all together. Of 80 rutabaga seeds I got 4 small roots. Of 50 chard there are 12 beautiful, delicious survivors. Of countless flats of lettuce I have 40 plants of varying ages. It’s so frustrating and it’s so difficult not to blame myself or to think that maybe I am not a farmer.
This is normal right? When success comes a little later than you hoped it’s normal to feel a little inadequate? Especially when you feel like people are counting on you, whether or not that is true.
I have gotten some really good feedback and my CSA members are so sweet. They are already incredibly supportive, even the tribe members I had never met before and I am incredibly grateful to them. They got small shares last week but this week is even worse, so I just hope they’ll stick with me. I see hope in this garden, a tiny zucchini here and some almost tomato flowers there. Plus it’s supposed to be hot and sunny this week -finally- and I planted another 100 chard and several new flats of lettuce, winter squash, and greens. At some point some of them have to survive. Until then, I will – and I will keep reminding myself that I’m a farmer until I become good at it.