As the sun breaks the sky, the farmers rise. Today is a pick day—a day where we harvest vegetables and fruits for CSA baskets and market. I’m usually rushing out the door, even though I live so close that the view out my bedroom window exposes the dirt on the white panes of the barn. As the crew arrives at the barn, we pay our morning dues to each other with a limp smile, except Cricket; he is usually jolly in the mornings for reasons unknown, but still a joy I aspire to feel early in the mornings.
Usually I begin by reordering the baskets and labeling them for our CSA customers. This takes some time because each week there is an oddly different pattern for the same customers. One day there will be a system we can pass onto the next Copper Cricketers.
Hours pass as some harvest and others package the vegetables. While picking, we weed the vegetables rows to maximize productivity. Nevertheless, the process includes moving efficiently through the vegetables, greens, and fruits and picking the ones that look edible. Sometimes the quality can vary because as workers, we can eat greens such as the kale that first belonged to a harlequin beetle; this type of hand-me-down food is better known as farmer food. Cricket and Carol are most generous to the customers and remind us that our standards are too low for customer quality.
Next, the vegetables and greens are brought into the barn to the packaging person. This is usually me. I have dominated the packaging role because at least one person should know what is going on to ensure consistency; otherwise, headless chickens might as well run the farm. The vegetables or greens are dumped gently into the sink to soak in cool water. Cricket once said that cold water does wonders in reviving vegetables, so I let them sit for a few minutes feeling like a hero watching the them come back to life. After the greens are reborn, I begin my monotonous work: open a bag, place a paper towel, add greens in the bag until the desired weight is reached. I have become annoyingly persistent with the weight, as I only allow a maximum of .1 oz. difference in weight between each bag. I do this about 200 more times. Usually an hour before noon we all decide to pick up our pace to make sure that all the swiss chard, cabbage, beans, potatoes, celery, radishes, and many more edibles are packaged and placed in a tetris-like manner inside the refrigerator. Ten minutes before noon, we become hungry fanatics tumbling around to ensure there is enough food for the baskets and the market. However, this is not even the most hectic part of the day. Luckily, Cricket and Carol feed their staff before the next step—they knew what they were doing.
After lunch, we pack the baskets. This means one person calls out who gets what in each basket according to their preferences, while another places the vegetables in the appropriate baskets. Meanwhile, some crewmembers peacefully arrange flowers in an extravagant bouquet for each basket. Carol comes in to check each basket and carefully displays each vegetable and positions the finishing touch—the flowers and a mist of water. As the baskets undergo beautification, they are loaded into the truck to be delivered to the customers. We wave our truck goodbye and breathe while looking at the mess in the barn.