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By Monica Johnson, farmer

This spring I became co-owner of a small-scale farm focused on producing vegetables incorporating sustainable methods. Since the first seeds were planted, I have felt the highs of tasting the fruits of my labor (literally) and the lows of realizing that the bugs won, at least temporarily.

As I focus on 2015, I reflect on what this year has taught me and share my successes and failures, in hopes of conveying what I’ve learned along my journey.

{{ image(3216, {“class”: “flor round”, “width”: “300”, “height”: “200”}) }}“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

-Albert Einstein

I’m not totally foreign to farming – it runs in my blood. My grandparents farmed; I interned at a rooftop farm, but all the responsibilities that go along with co-owning a farm are new to me. Many times, I considered throwing in the towel, thinking that I just didn’t know enough.

Like the time when all of my plants were ready for harvest at the same time and I realized that I should have staggered my planting times. If I had done that, I would have had less produce at one time, but more, over a longer period of time. That way, I could sell my food, for an extended period, and not have as much left over, which might go bad. This is a great rule of thumb for any green thumb, as we all know how overwhelming it can be to consume, or preserve, an over-abundant harvest.

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are
content with your failure.”

-Abraham Lincoln

If a bug exists, it visited our farm this spring. From squash vine borers to cucumber beetles to squash bugs. I tried a variety of organic approved products, including chrysanthemum liquid to eliminate these pests. I had some success, but my summer squash was decimated, due to my inexperience with the squash vine borer.

Next summer, I will be prepared, by setting out special trap pans to catch them, getting any infected plants promptly out of the garden to prevent eggs from being hatched and possibly planting a second crop after the threat of infestation has lessened.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

-Thomas Edison

{{ image(3217, {“class”: “flor round”, “width”: “300”, “height”: “200”}) }}Until I started farming for myself, I didn’t appreciate just how much hard work it really is. It’s stressful and the payoff often comes in small rewards found between numerous loses. The physical part of farming is backbreaking, especially if you are doing it on a small scale, because you’re using more of yourself to get the work done. But, the mental and emotional tolls are just as taxing; you’re not just planting and harvesting, but acting as mechanic, marketer and community builder. And, let’s not forget money; it is about the bottom line. It takes most small farms several years before they turn a profit and factors like weather cannot be controlled and affect the financial outcome.

So why do I farm?

I farm because I feel a personal responsibility to feed people good-quality food and to make our food system better. But, honestly I farm for selfish reasons. When I farm, I am focused on the task at hand, not wishing I were anywhere, or anyone else.

In these moments, I’m in touch with my true nature and for me this is reason, and reward, enough.

Republished with permission from Farm2Me.