Farmers Chill Out
November 12th, 2011 - By Therese Madden
As the growing season comes to a close, ever wonder what this means to the farmers? Professional and student farmers discuss this time year and various plans for the cold months to come.
Thanksgiving’s just around the corner, we’ve already had snow, and for area farms, the growing season is winding down. Ever wonder what this time of year means to the farmer? Do they all just go on vacation?
“When vacations are affordable, yeah.”
George Brittenburg is an organic farmer at Taproot Farm, just north of Reading, Pennsylvania.
“This year was hard, a lot of hard weather, I look forward to ending it almost because of that…..but there is a cyclical pattern where as soon as the crop is done, you think, well I can’t wait till next year.”
Brittenburg says this winter he plans on spending more time with his family, tending to his laying hens and planning for next year.
Jade Walker runs Mill Creek Farm in West Philadelphia. Mill Creek is a non-profit, they grow fresh, affordable food in a neighborhood where there are few options. For Walker, winter is a time to get resources together to make sure there is another growing season.
“We do a lot of outreach and we do a lot of fund raising where about a third of of our funding comes from grants so we have to do a lot of grantwriting in winter and a lot of our personal, private solicitations so we need to do that to keep our produce affordable and keep our programs running.”
I did find one farmer with plans to get away. Corey Spellman is farm manager at the Teens 4 Good Farm in West Fairmount Park. Looking down at a row of hearty lettuce, she shares what she’ll do when this is all covered in frost.
“In winter- I take a train to California, so I’ll be done mid December and I will take off two months. It’s the opposite vacation of a teacher but you get the same benefit, you get to have time off.”
This farm is also a non profit. Teen farmers grow the vegetables, and donate a lot of their crops to food pantries. They also sell some of their vegetables to the local Shoprite supermarket, learning the business side of farming.
10th grader Bethany Burgess, has been farming here for two years. She knows that for many people Thanksgiving is a celebration of the end of a successful growing season, for her it’s also become a day to be thankful for the farmers and their hard work.
“At Thanksgiving now, over the past two years, I see stuff on the table and I am like, wow, they’re actually people out there growing it and having to deal with the tough weather and all different types of stuff that i never thought of before, I was like, it’s just food on my table I’m going to eat it anyway, but I take recognition of the people out there doing it for me and I think its really kind of them to be out there and selling it and doing something good for the environment.”
Perhaps next year someone will start an organization that sends these hard working farmers on actual vacations come winter time?