Friday, August 14, 2009

Farmer or Gardener?

So when does a gardener become a farmer? Or vice versa?
This topic comes up a bit at Willowood Farm. Partly because it has only been in the last year or so that I've felt I've earned the title "Farmer" versus, for example, "Out of Control Gardener..."
Now a lot of folks out there might think that's just nuts. I know Willow the intern does. Her words today, "The next person who comes over here and refers to this as a "garden" I'm going to knock them over the head with a kohlrabi..." Or something to that effect...
But she has a point. I am, afterall, actively growing on eight acres this year. I have two tractors, one combine, numerous implements....I plant rows 250 feet at a time (today I planted about 20 rows, so, let's see 5,000 row feet?).

Yet, growing up on Ebey's Prairie, surrounded by 100s of acres of field crops and with neighbors that mean actual "tons" (as in 2000 lbs of wheat) of a crop when they use the term versus just a descriptive word meaning "lots" (as in I have "tons" of beets for market, like 50 bunches...), the title of "farmer" has been one that hasn't really felt right until recently.
So what is the difference between a "farmer" and a "gardener." I would like to say that a farmer is a person that makes a living off their gardening. But since there have been a lot of farmers that spent many years NOT make a living off their gardening, well, that doesn't fit.
Perhaps it is more fitting to say a farmer is a person who at least HOPES to make a living off their gardening! Okay, I qualify there.

Does a farmer need to have large equipment? Well, not neccessarily. I think there are probably a lot of folks farming all over the world that don't own anything that runs on horsepower (except, for maybe actual horse power...). Although, I do admit that the purchase last fall of "Manny" the cutest little manure spreader I ever did see, made me feel like I had earned the title of "farmer." Spreading manure by machine rather than by pitchfork? Definite step up.
I think feeling like a farmer has been something that has grown on me. Something I have began to "own" the more years I do this, and the more I learn. I'll never know it all. That is the one thing about "farming" that I find endlessly fascinating. Working with plants, soil, bugs, and nature is so incredibly complex. I don't know how anybody could say they have a total understanding of it. It is constantly mystifying (and inspiring) to me.
Perhaps that's the difference. Gardeners, well anybody with an interest and effort can be a gardener. Even a good one. But a farmer? You've got to earn that right from Mother Nature herself (plus throw little bit of crazy in, because us farmers have to be a bit crazy to love working this hard!)
So, enough pontificating and on to the good stuff - the FABULOUS FOOD COMING TO THE COUPEVILLE AND BAYVIEW MARKETS TOMORROW!
Here we go -
From Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie
* Fresh Chickpea (aka Garbanzo bean) Bunches. These are a short seasonal treat so get them while you can, I would guess we'll have one more picking on them then they will be past the fresh stage. Yes, they are a bit of work to shell but so worth it! Chef Vincent Nattress, who recently moved to Coupeville with his family and is selling AWESOME sourdough pancakes and pulled pork sandwiches at the Coupeville Farmer's Market blogged about our chickpeas on his new local foods blog. And he came up with a great recipe. Check it out here -
And the really cool thing? Along with being an accomplished chef, Vincent is a COUPEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE! Go Wolves! Welcome back Vincent, Coupeville Rocks!
* Potatoes. Adding more kinds this week. Romanze (yellow/red), Mountain Rose (red/red), Purple Majesty (crazy purple), Carola (yellow) and some Maris Pipers (creamy white), as well. Come check out the growing selection (pun intended!).
* Garlic - should be coming with a nice mix of this as well. It is all curing nicely in the barn!
* Head Lettuce! New crop in. Looks great so come and enjoy!
* Onions, onions, onions....Lots of flavors.
* Brocolli
* Summer squash
* Romanesca Cauliflower (the crazy spiral orangey kind)
* HUGE cabbages. Red and green. Time for coleslaw and sauerkrat!
* HUGE kohlrabi. Add to above...
* Beets - Red, Chioggia and Golden!
* Carrots - Medium size and tasty! Some red ones too...
* Parsnips
* Kale and Chard bunches...
* Squash blossoms
* Bulb Fennel

From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm
* Big Carrot bunches
* Huge beets for canning
* Lovely fresh beans - yellow wax, french filet, etc...
* More onions including green onion bunches!
* Lettuce Mix
* Summer Squash
* Leeks
* And more stuff but Wilbur keeps forgetting to send me his list so I'm not sure what else. WIL-BUR!!!!

So, thanks for reading all this and we sure do hope to see you tomorrow. I will be down at the Bayview market for those who have been missing me!

Eat your Vegetables!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie


  1. Wow. I am going to use your blog as my go to for farming vegetables source.
    I feel tremendously ignorant that all these years I did not know that chickpeas are garbanzo beans.

  2. Thanks Dena. And don't feel tremendously ignorant - you are far, far from the only one! Unfortunately canned food in the grocery store often times looks nothing like what it does growing unencumbered in a field! And tastes remarkably different as well...

  3. You are a farmer.

    Farmers are the backbones of society.
    The good ones, like you, anyway!

    "Our" property is leased to a vegetable farmer. Fresh veggies, out in the back 40!

    What's truly odd about this year, is that we STILL have peas. In the middle of August! Unheard of..
    No corn planted this year, no window to plant them, but we have peas.
    I LOVE peas...

    best of luck with your harvests!