From the Field – Fall 2015

In true Adamah fashion, we’ve been scrounging up free stuff this fall.

A local hay farmer found himself with a whole section of his barn full of broken bales – difficult to move, not very useful, and in the way.

Across town on Beebe Hill, we have 6,000 cloves of garlic (planted by alumni during the reunion) in need of mulch, a compost yard that is ever-hungry for dry organic material, and a few empty beds that are in need of erosion-preventing cover after late fall harvests left them bare.

Enter: the enthusiastic, pitch fork wielding, pickup truck loading, hay slinging, professional schleppers of Fall Adamah 2015! We got about ten truck loads of free hay and Bill got his barn cleaned out, plus a few jars of the best pickles in the world.

It was a shidduch between vegetable growers and hay farmers and a case of turning one farmer’s trash into another’s treasure. But it was also something else. It was a regenerative act.

One way to look at farming is as the practice of moving carbon around. A plant takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, creates its’ body with the carbon, and then we eat the plant, thus creating our own bodies and fueling our daily “modeh ani” prayer, our bike rides up Johnson Road, and our active listening.

As we spread all that hay across the garlic beds I thought about the crop of fat green cabbage that had grown right there a few weeks ago. I imagined those cabbage plants grabbing C02 from the air and combining it with water and nutrients from the soil. I remembered carrying heavy crates of them up the hill and saw the dark brown dirt below me, bare and empty of the food it produced.

I looked at the hay in my hands and imagined it when the alfalfa and timothy grass plants were alive, growing bucolically in a field in nearby Canaan, CT; combining CO2 with water to create those long stems of pure fuel.

And here I was, putting organic matter back onto soil, just playing a game of carbon reshuffling. Carbon from our field on Beebe Hill was now pounded and salted in a blue kraut barrel, waiting to energize the lucky customer who eats it next spring in Brooklyn or Boston or the Isabella Freedman dining hall. And carbon from a Canaan hay field would replenish the organic matter in our field on Beebe Hill as it decomposed, ready to fuel the growth of the 6,000 heads of garlic that will flavor our dill pickles and season the soups of our CSA customers next summer.

Regenerative agriculture requires that we remember to put back what we take out.

I am grateful to the practice of managing soil organic matter for the reminder that fertility is all about replenishing after the harvest. We have to hold up all points in the cycle to fuel our lives.

I am grateful to all of those enthusiastic, pitch fork wielding, pickup truck loading, hay slinging, professional schleppers of Adamah for sharing in the regenerative vision.

And, I am grateful to the carbon itself, for a season of fat cabbages, endless fruits, and salad greens that haven’t quit yet even in late November.

Janna Siller is the Adamah Farm Field Manager.