After a very full 2019 growing season, A Rocha Farmers Paul Neufeld and Jenn Cline took a nap. Then they went to Africa. Respectively. Jenn to Malawi to meet her fiancee’s family, and Paul to Kenya with his own family to volunteer with the A Rocha project there. And now they are turning their minds and their muscles to the spring growing season. In-between all the napping, traveling and planning they sat down to reflect on the art of small-scale sustainable agriculture. Happily, their conversation was recorded for posterity and for your enjoyment.**
Jenn: Hey, Paul.
Paul: Hey, Jenn. You know, I’ve been doing this A Rocha farming thing for years, but this was your first season with us. How did you find it?
Jenn: Well, it was an adventure. I actually can’t believe we made it! I had a lot of fun growing crops I’ve never grown before, like kohlrabi and hot peppers. It was also nice to grow onions that survived the slugs.
Paul: Yeah, it was our best onion crop in years! But going back to you. It was so cool to hire a former CSA member! I’ve so enjoyed your positivity and your engagement with the whole range of people at Brooksdale. You have such a welcoming spirit.
Jenn: Aw, shucks.
Paul: Were there any things you found surprising?
Jenn: For sure. Like, how much we grew with so few staff and on so little land! When I talked with farmer friends and told them how many people we were growing food for in our CSA and farm markets on just a few acres their eyes nearly popped out of their heads. Then they’d ask, “How many skilled staff do you have?” Then their eyes would pop even further out of their heads when I told them it was just the two of us.
Paul: So, it was challenging is what you’re saying?
Jenn: Sometimes it was crazy challenging, but also crazy amazing because even in the most significant crunch times, volunteers just seemed to come out of the woodwork. To watch the community around us support this endeavour was very special.
Paul: I agree. And despite some of the challenges of weather or not feeling like we could keep up with the planting or weeding at times, it was so heartening to get such positive feedback from our CSA members. One of our members told me that he buys two shares, even though he knows he can’t eat it all. He takes a lot of it to his office and gives it to his employees. They see it as one of the wonderful perks of working there!
Jenn: What a fun story.
Paul: You know what else is fun? Seeding for the coming growing season!
Jenn: Summer bounty here we come!
Paul: And you know what else is fun?
Jenn: Do tell.
Paul: There are some interesting changes to the CSA this year that will hopefully smooth out some of the farming challenges from past years while also allowing us to grow and provide amazingly high quality veggies.***
Jenn: Hurray! And thanks for the chat!
**This very conversation really did take place and someone really was on hand to record it for your enjoyment. We’re not making this up!
Don’t forget to visit our CSA page to learn more about how you can get farm-fresh veggies this growing season!