Bit o’ Honey ~ the little things that please

The little things that please . . .

I Work For Food

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It wasn’t long ago I could shop once a week at any one of the city’s specialty food stores to stock up on Manchego cheese, cured black olives, a decent bottle of Australian wine, salted cashews, and a loaf of fresh German rye bread.  I can remember deliberating at the check out line, “Should I buy that $4 bar of chocolate, too?”  Ah, those were the days.  Now, due to the much-hyped gas prices, I’ve downgraded to deli cheddar at the chain store, rye crackers and the occasional Hershey bar.  And the wine and olives?  Well, maybe for my birthday (which is just two months away).  I decided to the only solution was one I’d been mulling over for years — to work at a local farm in exchange for food.  Through the Portland CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, I found a small family farm about twenty minutes from home where I can work for food.  The beauty of this arrangement is that I’m able to work around my schedule, so long as I total 25 hours during the growing season.  For that I receive produce for two every week during harvest, an education in agriculture and the sensual experience of working outside in the dirt on a farm.  

This lower field sits at the bottom of a dirt road.  

My job this week was ridding the onion patch of weeds.  

Sometimes it’s hard to tell weed from plant.

Even a farmer’s helper needs her fashion.  

I bought this hat at the Dollar Store – yes, for one dollar.  I ripped the plastic ribbon from its brim, submerged the hat in a sink full of water to de-starch it, and threaded it with a leather strip.   Now I’m ready to hit the rows. . .

Prepare for attack! 

Because this farm is in the process of becoming certified organic, it uses nature-friendly techniques.  In other words, weeding is done by hand, plant by plant, row by row.  After the plant is free of weeds, I clear away any dirt from the stalk, where the leaves converge.  

So much for that manicure . . .

This step is important, I learned, to be sure the plant has an open passage for air.  It’s a slow process but the work allows for a deeper intimacy with plant and earth, precisely what’s absent in my city life.  The work is physically challenging but time passes surprisingly fast.  I was at it for three hours in the mid-day sun, with only the breeze and birds to keep me company.  A marvelous time for reflection and daydreaming.


Weeding accomplished! (In this row, at least.)

Hard but satisfying work!  Now, for a cold drink and a shower . . .



Written by Janie

June 15, 2008 at 2:23 am

One Response

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  1. Soooo Nice! Wonderful photos – your hand and the plant and dirt, especially “your shadow” and knowing that there was a pause in your work at that moment to appreciate and “see” and think of sharing….


    Dan Robinson

    June 27, 2008 at 11:25 am

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