My CSA was great this summer because it was like shopping in a grocery market. I was able to select what I wanted skipping the dark leafy greens in favor of beets every time!
Besides the great food, though, I use a CSA for another reason. A secret reason that no one can see as I select my squash and tomatoes, and as I tramp around the beds in the field picking flowers and cherry tomatoes or beans and fresh herbs.
I’m breathing while I am there.
I am breathing in fresh air and smells of the farm, of soil and rain and varmints. Being there, my feet sinking into the ground, makes me remember my childhood. My father was a dairy farmer, and I am not kidding, the smell of cow manure is not a bad smell to me. My CSA has no cows, but since Dad also raised vegetables, every summer my mother and I sat snapping buckets of green beans then blanching them before freezing. Stepping out to the farm once a week has its purpose for me today.
My childhood lacked important elements, but one thing it had for sure, was an abundance of contact with the earth. Sometimes you’d find fall leaves on the steps going up to the attic as if they’d wandered in and hitched a ride through the house. Or you’d hear creatures in the walls and a possum on the porch. The dirt tracked in the house from my dad’s boots and the stem he used to pick his teeth meant he’d spent the day in the fields checking on his men. And for me, the babble of the creek nearby was as hallowed as the voice of a trusted friend.
Although Two Gander Farm is my outdoor grocery store, I go there not just for the rich produce. There’s a sense of belonging I don’t feel anywhere else. The smell of leaf and seed and dirt in the cracks of the barn’s floorboards swirls around me and welcomes me in. The ladders, the post beams, the creaking of the roof as windy air whips through, or just the puddles that gather where they will as it happens, all love me just because I show up.
Being on the farm makes me remember that the earth is my friend and otherwise I don’t visit it enough.