Giving Tree Farms
Anderson Valley, CA
Sometimes, I look down at my jeans and honestly have no idea when they were last washed. Same with my hair. This is harvest season, and you could call it “living the dream.” I do, most of the time. Other times, when I can barely bend my elbow from all the repetitive movements, I call it other words.
Farm life breaks you down, then builds you back up.
My partner and I are first-generation farmers. I imagine this is similar to being first-time parents — except you don’t raise your babies, share photos of them on social media, then cut them down and sell them.
As with small humans, however, the feeding and care requirements are constant. And most days begin early. A recent 4:30 a.m. start time was driven by hopes to get everything down from the drying lines, get it weighed and set the cure room climate controls before the heat came. It didn’t happen; 7:30 p.m. came and went before the final lines were taken down.
The behind-the-scenes action can be just as tiresome — the countless hours of workshops, the constantly changing perceptions, the obsession with weather. It often seems like all my conversations are centered around chickens, goats and ravens, or what time the dump opens.
As any grower knows, compliance is complex. Navigating a constantly evolving regulatory world is difficult, to say the least. It’s even harder when you’re committed to doing the right thing.
The past few years have been a challenge as the market has tightened its grip on many small, family farms like ours. We’re constantly asking ourselves how we can continue. How can we keep doing what we love when the “hard days” get harder and more numerous?
For us, it means gathering with our peers, sharing successes and failures, techniques and sales leads. We mix-n-mingle and pass a joint or microdose. Together, we survive another year. As we wait for state lines to open up, an oversaturated market to correct itself and long-term partners to reveal themselves, all we can do is settle in with the like-minded people in our community.
To me, this is living the dream — finding a tribe, either by starting a regional association, alliance or cooperative or by joining a Clubhouse or Facebook group. Don’t try to do this alone; together is much better. We got this, Cali!