Tuesday was Growing Up Organic produce pickup day. While Laurent, the produce middle man, was at the farm to pick up our stuff, he gave me an anti-pep talk, lamenting how the handful of growers on the island more than satisfied the limited demand for local organic produce. It’s at least the third time he and I have had this particular conversation but each time I’m left with more of crisis of confidence than the last time. There’s no money doing this stuff on the scale we’re doing it on. And if you do mass produce something, you’ll have to export it from the island, and/or sell it for almost nothing. Locals can’t or won’t pay the true cost of food. Et cetera.
While he’s doing his spiel, I vow to him that I won’t get bummed. He replies that he’s not trying to discourage me, just stating the facts as he sees them. Then I tell him that he’s just like me; always the devil’s advocate. And then I vow privately to be a little less like us next time I’m in his position.
In between his visits, Pauline and I go on our merry way, spending an average of about 6 hours a day doing farm stuff. Sometimes we stop and ask ourselves why we’re hand-weeding a lost-cause spinach bed or removing yet another ton of stones from a bed that already had ALL of its stones removed.
But usually the answer comes from a natural character; a gaggle of geese doing a low pass enroute the grassland next door, Paul and Christina’s sheep baa-ing in the distance, an actual pacific chorus frog sitting on a dock leaf (and a garter snake sliding through the tall grass toward him) or a bank of low cloud hanging over the valley to the west. Priceless gifts that cost nothing but our time.
Other times the answer comes from the news. A story about another food shortage or contamination scare, a story about the risks of a sedentary lifestyle or a story about world finance, peak oil or climate change.
Then I remember that we didn’t start this thinking we’d get rich. But several times throughout the summer we’ve looked at each other after a Tuesday market or after a good market stand day and say you know, we could actually make a living doing this. And then that must subconsciously lead to Look at us! We’re making a living!, which then sticks in my head.
Until reality clunks up the driveway in his GMC.
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I’m guessing that my carrot profitability analysis (when I get to it) will be less than encouraging. In the mean time, I’ve swung back over from the I’m-working-for-50c/hour mindset to the I’ve-got-a cool-inexpensive-hobby-that-I-really-like mindset. Plus we eat better than ever and someday all of this might be worth more than it does right now.
The carrots will just have to wait.