This is a wondrous time of year on the farm. The energy is vibrant and all of the senses are awakened to the signs of spring. Where there was only white and gray just a little while ago, there now is a robust palette of colors, and the air is filled with the promise of abundance (and seasonal allergies!). As the temperatures rise and the days lengthen, dormant plants and trees begin to sprout fresh green leaves, transforming the landscape into a lush tapestry. Delicate blossoms burst forth on fruit trees, inviting bees and butterflies to partake in the annual dance of pollination.
Seedlings that were started weeks ago are now being planted in the ground. Our hope is that there are no more frosts to come this season, as it's been warm and the forecasts are favorable. Wild ducks have taken up residence in the pond garden and the first vegetables of the season are now coming from the hoop houses and outdoor beds into the farmhouse to be washed and prepared for sale. From the hoop houses we are harvesting radishes, turnips and many different types of leafy greens.
Outdoors, the rhubarb is beginning to grow quickly and the very first asparagus of the year is poking through the soil. As a chef, it's very exciting to see these things happening. Patience is important as we wait for some of these vegetables to reach their optimal state of growth for harvest. One example of where I am forced to be patient is with the 'green garlic' or young garlic. The garlic was planted last year at the end of the season, and it is now growing robustly. Once the immature garlic gets to the optimal state for harvesting, it is among my favorite ingredients. Much mellower and less spicy than mature garlic, the entire plant may be used from the bulb all the way down the green leaves. I check it regularly, waiting for it to reach the perfect state for cooking.
Until then, I have the heirloom Egyptian walking onions (Allium proliferum) to use! These remarkable plants form bulbs at the top of the plant, where the flowers and seeds of a regular onion would be, and then flop over from the weight of the bulbs, re-planting themselves in that spot, beginning the 'walk'. These onions are thought to have originated in India or Pakistan, making their way to Europe with the Romans.
Even the auditory landscape of the farm is changing to reflect the season. The rumbles of the freshly awakened farm equipment and the voices of the farm hands float through the air. The chorus of birdsong is particularly enchanting as feathered visitors return from their migratory journeys. The rush of the water can also be heard as the melting snow fuels the rivers and streams that weave through our valley and our farm.
Overall, the feeling on the farm is one of optimism and hope, as we put tremendous effort into the annual and perennial plants and trees that will yield for us and our community a bounty of fruits and vegetables. We hope you will join us to enjoy the fruits of our labors!