This post is the third in a series of essays by Vital Communities intern, Nicolle Moore, about her summer participation in the Farm Worker Learning Collaborative.
“No weed goes to seed” and “you only need one tractor” are among the words of wisdom offered by Geo Honigford at Monday night’s Learning Collaborative. Geo has a strict “no weeds” policy for his crops and he and Jess (Learning Collaborative farm worker) keep busy almost every day of the week, diligently searching the fields for the potential intruders. The first stop on the Learning Collaborative tour takes us past the various tools that have Geo’s stamp of approval for their efficiency and accuracy on the farm. When we arrive at the first field, another person on the tour quickly notices small strips of paper peeking out of the soil and asks Jess to identify them. One of the planting strategies that Hurricane Flats uses is the Japanese paper pot transplanter which (to someone as unfamiliar with farming as me) is essentially magic. It is just one of the innovations that we are introduced to during the tour.
Since the central focus of this farm tour is weed control strategies, Geo explains that he can spend more time producing vegetable to sell if there aren’t so many weeds to pull. We learn that because of his 18 year focus on weed control, every year he has statistically fewer weeds. This means he can keep his production costs low and produce reasonable priced organic vegetables. After our tour, I wander past the “Certified Organic” sign and into the Hurricane Flats farm stand to see some of the produce. Customers shop under the honor system and one woman even stopped by while I was there and commented on the amazing prices. Jess comes over with her dog and explains that he is basically a third worker on the farm with the amount of time he spends chasing crows and blackbirds in the fields. By the end of the tour, Jess and Geo essentially sound like superheroes since they are the farm’s only workers. Tonight I learned that it IS possible to have a virtually weed-free farm with the right amount of persistence.
At the potluck we are all happy to see local potatoes on the table along with homemade tzatziki, a black raspberry and blueberry cobbler, and strawberry shortcake. I listen to a few workers from another farm comment on how nice it must be to win the battle with weeds…