Joe the farmer, who is in his late sixties, and two twenty something year olds run the farm, producing around five acres of organic produce for local consumers. When we pulled into the farm, two dogs eagerly greeted us, as if they wanted to show us the farm themselves. They were of no particular breed but you can tell they played an important role on the farm. There was nothing fancy about the farm, in fact it appeared quite modest. The barns were in somewhat need of repair, the greenhouses clearly made from recycled piping and plastic, compost piles scattered here and there, buzzing with flies and bees. As we walked towards one of the three main open sided barns, one of the farmers were washing enormous piles of daikon radishes in old ceramic tubs that reclaimed new purpose as outdoor farm sinks. Joe came over to us and explained that a family had recently asked him to grow hundreds of pounds of daikon radish for their locally made organic kim chee business. With that he quickly turned around and we followed as he gave us the tour. The landscape of the farm itself was in no particular order. High hills, low, plains, unruly bushes, forest trails and a fresh rapid river all stayed in the places nature put them. There was no structural redesign or manicured intension. Joe explained his style of crop rotation and how he naturally re-nourishes the soil with rye and legumes with every turnover. You can tell that this farm was not just his business, but also his passion, in fact his whole life. Pretty soon, we were put to work relocating a primitive irrigation system, carrying 40 foot pipes from the river banks to side of the top barn. By the end of the day, we had learned about the most responsible way of sustainable farming. We had put our knees to the ground and our hands in the dirt. We plucked beets from the earth, we covered pepper plants with cloth in prep for the night frost, we snacked on fall raspberries that were sweeter that sugar and best of all we got to hear Joe tell stories of him and his farm. He told us how he has gone to a supermarket to buy food for his family. Even the meat that his family ate came from a neighboring farm which he barters produce with. He told us how his now grown son, used to sit in the rows of growing vegetation as a small child pulling carrots from the ground and eating them right there, dirt and all. He told us how the wild bees did such a great job re-pollenating his farm and how every growing produce was picked by hand. Most importantly he told us that his vegetables tasted better then anyone else’s and he dared us to prove him wrong.
Today was more than just learning facts about organic farming, today we learned that good, wholesome, healthy food starts from a hard working, responsible farmer and his respect for the land nature had given him. And in fact he was right, I never tasted a better pepper in my life.