Sixteen Weeks of Lettuce – I Did That!

There used to be a TV show that I liked and after the credits it had a little “identifier” for the producer, with a kid saying, “I did that!”

I’ve had a few of those moments lately. Well, I get them all the time the way I live, but a few stand out. The first is this pile of dirt and gravel. I know. It’s just a pile of dirt. But it’s kind of a big deal to me.

I did that

A few years ago I assembled this metal shed that I store stuff in, like rototillers, and I positioned it on a raised area because it is in a low-lying area that floods in the spring. At the time I quickly put together a wooden ramp (yes, from scrounged pallets) and I’ve been using this temporary ramp for years. It gets really slippery when it’s wet, which seems to be a lot of the time, and it was just a lousy temporary solution. But there’s a kind of inertia with all of the things that you’ll ‘get around to some day’ and it’s been on the ‘to-do’ list’ but it just never got done.

If I had a tractor with a bucket it would have been done ages ago, but alas, I don’t, and any day that I had the energy to work on it, there were more pressing (i.e. paying work on the CSA) that took priority. So this fall I finally started dragging wheelbarrows full of sand from a sand pit, which is about a 5 minute walk away, and began building up the ramp. I decided to just do 3 trips a day, to save my back. And my arms. And my ankles.

It’s nice though, because I have to walk through the woods to get to the sand and Jasper just loves accompanying me on my trips to get sand. It’s like he has this radar and doesn’t matter where on the property he is, once I start towards the path through the woods with the wheelbarrow, he will appear out of nowhere and blasts by me at break neck speed and is at the sand pit in about 4 seconds! Then he comes back to make sure I’m still coming … then he sprints back … and so on and so forth.

Once I got the ramp built up I took some gravel from the driveway and topped it off, to keep it a little less muddy on wet days. And now, about once I day, I walk over and look at this pile of dirt and say, … “I did that!” And it feels really great. I could stare at it all day. And when I actually have to use it, well, I just swell up with pride at my accomplishment. It’s the little things.

With the CSA over I’m in a mad dash to get a million other small jobs done before the ground freezes. Many of our friends and family members have asked me how the CSA season was this year. I think it was a huge success. We had the whole “drought/freeze/flood” thing in the spring which forced me to have to replant a lot of stuff, and it took out a lot of peas, so there were some things that weren’t as good as other years. But overall I think it was a fantastic year. I am really proud of the baskets we put out this year. In fact we even ended up with a bonus delivery 2 weeks after our Canadian Thanksgiving (the second week of October) because we still had so much stuff we wanted to get to our members.

We got a lot of positive feedback about our lettuce this year, for which I am extremely proud. I don’t say this to boast but rather to note that I have been challenged in previous years to have a steady supply of green leafy stuff. Lettuce doesn’t always like heat, so it’s hard to keep it during the worst of the summer heat. I always have lots in the spring and fall, but there can be weeks in July and August where it just doesn’t look good enough to give to our members, or I simply don’t have it because I haven’t timed the planting properly.

This year everything came together to allow us to provide lettuce to our members every week of the deliveries. Sixteen weeks of lettuce. I technically could have provided it in our bonus week, but the boxes were so full it was going to get squished when I closed the lids, and with spinach and kale the box already seemed to have enough greens.

Humans seek self-actualization. We strive to do things well. Some people try to better their personal athletic milestones. Others keep score comparing the size of their retirement accounts. Or the shiny metal box that sits in their driveway.

I find myself increasingly removed from those sorts of goals and increasingly focused on things that come out of my soil. And heck, even my soil itself. Running a CSA is a stupid amount of work. And it’s one nightmare of an organizational challenge. Timing the plantings from when we start our transplants in February to the final delivery just requires an immense effort. And every year we get better at it. And every year I’m less stressed about having enough vegetables in every box. And every year, and every week I am more and more proud about the final product we’re putting out.

cam with peppers FB

It seems to me that one of the challenges in this life is that the jobs that often pay the most provide the least opportunity for personal satisfaction. Oh sure, there’s that paycheck scorecard, but then you just find yourself wanting to hop on a plane to reward yourself.

I get a big grin on my face every time I think about how much organic produce we grew and provided to our amazing CSA members. For 16 weeks we provided just about every vegetable you can grow in our growing region, and we maximized the time we provided each. We had 16 weeks of lettuce! We had lettuce every week and “I did that!”

 

Cam lettuce

4 Responses to “Sixteen Weeks of Lettuce – I Did That!”

  • Hey Cam & Michelle – Sounds like a great season all-in-all! I am in awe of the guy who runs the Saugeen River CSA I am a part of over here in northern Grey County (“Cory the super-farmer” I call him) and likewise struck with wonder & gratitude to you both, and all others who provide wholesome food to others in a sustainable way that treads lightly on our earth.

  • Jim:

    Great work Cam and Michelle for all the harvest you accomplished this year. It shows when you have good planning and the seasons sort of work out the way you like.
    It is good when what you do becomes easier basically because you have learnt from previous efforts. Also you will see an improvement in soil structure, biota, fertility and soil health due to all the work you do in it.
    Hope you can repeat it again next time round.

  • Davidovich:

    Blessings on you for your fine harvest this year. Next step, how will you prepare your soil for winter? Do you remove the cornstalks and dig it up by hand with a shovel? Do you use your mechanical rototiller? Do you have a friend with a tractor and plow? What tools do you use for that? Do you do preparation in the fall, or wait until spring?

  • david mangen:

    i do not know if this politically correct but i say God bless you.

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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