With the snow on the ground tonight, it’s hard to believe that last Sunday was the first day of Spring! Fortunately, the mild weather dried things out just enough to prepare garden beds at the farm for planting in both the kitchen garden and our new market garden. We sowed peas and spinach, which are now enjoying a little extra insulation and a steady supply of water thanks to the few inches of snow on top! It’s also time to start seeds indoors for later transplanting. We have lettuce, escarole, radicchio, scallions, and chard quietly germinating indoors, with broccoli, beets, and then the warm weather crops soon to follow. I’ve always found growing seedlings to be one of the most satisfying of gardening jobs. The care and attention these plants requires is a joy to give, and to be surrounded by green indoors while the snow is falling outside is therapeutic for the soul.
Beginning a very small CSA this year is a significant addition to our little farm. I was first drawn to agriculture in the spring of 1999 and decided to take one year off from college to pursue a full time apprenticeship in small-scale organic vegetable production. In fact, it was my experience that year which fueled my interest in cooking. Having access for the first time in my life to produce of the very best freshness and quality, I was induced to cook in a way that best honored that quality. I found myself drawn again and again to the Italian understanding of cooking – to cook in a way that brought out the quality of produce through the simplest possible preparations and greatest attention to detail – especially to the inspirational writing of Marcella Hazan. Soon my passion for cooking was fueled, and I am very lucky that that passion was and has always been connected to growing the food I prepare for my family and customers. For me, a love of cooking and a love of agriculture have always been intertwined.
To offer produce for sale through a CSA is especially meaningful. A CSA (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture) is a subscription series in which a family commits to supporting a farm for an entire growing season and in return receives a weekly supply of produce. To us it is the most meaningful form of selling produce because it is also the most personal and requires the most mutual commitment. Like our guests at the restaurant, many of whom we have come to count as friends as much as customers, we hope our CSA subscribers will feel a part of our little farm.
Old Tioga Farm is still very much a work in progress, but we are grateful for the good that has come of it already, and we hope to continue to nurture the good it has to offer. It is a project worthy of spending one’s life on.