I took this past Monday off of work and both Gord and I went to the farm to help out for the entire day. We weeded the little onions that I helped plant last time, and then in the afternoon we got to help transplant 1200 lettuce plants into the field. Two other share-holders came out in the afternoon so we got this transplanting done in a few hours, after which we went back to weeding the onions.
In the picture you can see the flats of "freckled" lettuce that we helped plant. Other varieties we helped plant were green romaine, and one called "Drunken Woman." Who knew lettuce could be so hilarious?
The CSA farm overlooks a lovely river valley, and on our afternoon break I had time to munch some carrots while sitting on a bench down the hill there, gazing at the view and listening to the cows in the distance.
Graham says we'll have lettuce in our share baskets in a couple of weeks, the same time he'll be bringing them out to the farmer's market. Let me put a plug in here for your local organic farmer by saying that the price you're paying at the market for an organic head of lettuce doesn't even come close to reflecting the value of all the time and labor that goes into each one. When we transplant, every single lettuce plant is checked to make sure that it is tucked well into the soil by the transplanter, not too shallow and not too deep, with any excess dirt carefully dusted off the little leaves. And that doesn't even begin to tell the story -- these lettuce plants were all grown from seed, thinned, watered, cared for daily in the greenhouse and in the hoop houses. After being transplanted to the field, they will once again be watered and weeded regularly, then picked, washed and transported to the market. There's no way you could charge 8 dollars for a head of lettuce, but that's probably what they're really worth.
Gord summed it up well when on the transplanter he said he figured we should "bow to the lettuce" before eating it - that's not a bad idea. And neither is letting our market farmers know how much we appreciate the care taken in the growing of our food.