PLENTY FALL 2019 Fall Plenty 2019-web | Page 16

farmstead that was too small for big equipment, available for a small-scale producer. John had mar- ried into the farm and having been a career educator he hoped that the land might help someone hone their craft. The Beckers wanted the producer to use organic techniques, to protect habitat around the farmhouse for critters. “I love this land and the wild- ness with resident fox, turkeys, woodpeckers,” Fran- ces said adding, “It was important to have someone who cares for this land.” As far as lessons learned, Frances offered up the case of Tanya’s new greenhouse. “Tanya asked if she could build one for season extension and con- trolled growing conditions. I should have asked the size,” Frances noted. “I should have told you,” Tanya acknowledged. John Becker smiled. It is a pretty good-sized greenhouse. We all agreed that clear and consistent communication between farmer and landowner is key. And yet you could see from the ease of the conversation and the shared compli- ments that this was a good match. “Tanya shares her produce. We love that,” Frances remarked. “I came into this knowing it would not be an overnight success,” Tanya emphasized. “I wouldn’t have gotten this far without the Becker’s warmth and support.” Before parting, we all laughed long and hard at the story of Tanya’s sloppy collision with a big manure pile on the farm and the ensuring comedic joint effort to get her car free. I caught up with Tanya again at her farm on a mid-July’s hazy, thick day. She had taken a break in the shade, with needed fortification of now very soft chocolates and cool water which she generously shared after motioning me to sit with her. We were both taking time away from busy. This lovely, rangey bit of land is clearly her element— her contentment and peace imme- diately felt. The conversation flowed along with life philosophies shared. “Farming teaches me about patience and being in the moment at each stage when the crops are growing up. The beauty of planting a tiny mustard seed, and then...the harvest of the big leaves,” she beamed. It is a tangible thing. But it is also deeply spiritual. “There is a much deeper meaning than the financial transaction,” Tanya said. And that is what we have heard over the years from other producers—the satisfaction of deeper human connection through the planting, nurturing and shared harvest. This land gives me hope, something to look forward to. This is a life sustainer for me. ~ Tanya Spandhla Kiwano, or horned melon, is a specialty fruit from Africa and one of Tanya’s popular cash crops. 16 plenty I autumn harvest 2019 We also talked about the other substantial challenges to farmers here, including securing knowledgeable and affordable labor, groundhogs and deer. “The ground hog that lives near the greenhouse is so fat he can’t even walk,” Tanya complained. And there is the cost of fencing, and a watering system. And the rain… the incredible de- structive volume and velocity of the storms that the region is experiencing has resulted in heavy crop loss, especially last year. But Tanya is like most all farmers—an optimist—and is buoyed by the strong bond she has formed with her customers, those at market and those who come to the farm. “They start asking for corn in February!”