03/30/2009 02:36 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Farm Visit - Early Spring 2009

The first of spring and tell tale signs of the new season are not poking out. The landscape at Katchkie Farm is solidly brown and barren. But there is birdsong in the air. And all the streams are rushing off somewhere, creating an exquisite sound. The skeletons of late fall still stand - tall headless sunflower stalks and shriveled brussels sprout plants - frozen in place since the sudden onset of winter. Next week, they will be plowed under as Farmer Bob prepares the fields for spring planting. He is out on the tractor spreading chicken manure to fertilize the fields.


But life is abundant when you come into the greenhouses. My glasses fog up instantly and the moist air is a welcome relief. The center greenhouse was planted last week with arugala and Bordeaux spinach. Upon closer inspection, tiny green tops are beginning to show, so easy to miss, but in a weeks time will be a soft almost moss-like cover and a tender shade of green.


(I return a week later to see the change. It is gradual and the rows of small greens are now distinguishable. In the neighboring greenhouse, small heads of lettuce are beginning to emerge.)

The nursery is bursting with activity and is aptly named for the very young inhabitants it nurtures. Ours has ample room and 3 other farmers are sharing the space. Roxbury Farm, our good neighbor across the street has some overflow seedlings, a local flower grower, Wild and Cultivated, occupies a few tables and a new small group from the community, St Joseph's Center, is launching their inaugural crops here. Farmer Bob enjoys the camaraderie, as must do the plants.


The tables are brand new - Bob has built each one by hand. They have radiant heating and are very efficient. They are the envy of the county and reflective of how Bob has thoughtfully grown the infrastructure of the farm as well as its produce. Each top slides over allowing access to all sides, maximizing the use of the greenhouse space.

Tray after tray, table after table - everything carefully labeled: spring onions, cilantro, lettuces, broccoli, kohlrabi, tomatoes, faro, and more - an amazing ritual of springtime - the painstaking process of starting every vegetable plant from seed. It is so stunning and artful to imagine how in several weeks, row after row, these little seedlings will populate field after field.

One asks - where does our food come from? From little seeds! All that information - how to grow, what to look like, how to taste - all secreted in a single tiny seed.