Farmer John and I have seven people working with us now. These are their cups.

These are the cups John and I use.

We aren’t being elitist. John and I get to drink from real glasses because, well, we live here and each of us continues using the same water glass long after the other seven people have left the farm. Plus, if everyone used glasses for their drinking water, we’d have no way of knowing whose glass was whose. So whenever a new person comes on board, we assign them a plastic cup.

Our two newest people, Kris and Daniel, were hired for part-time summer help.

Aaron, who originally worked for us in 2002-2003, has returned recently on a part-part-part-time basis, coming here only on his “off” days from the fire department where he’s employed now.

It’s a little ironic that he was appointed the pink cup, given the fact that since he left our employ those years ago, he trained for and became an Ultimate Fighter (about which I’ve had no qualms expressing my disapproval) as well as a certified firefighter (which almost makes up for the Ultimate thing).

Aaron was a shy 17-year-old when he came to the farm in 2002, and though he’s now married and a father of two, John and I continue to refer to him as “the boy.” He’ll always be a kid to us so I guess in this case, really, the pink cup makes sense. He doesn’t mind it anyway. I suppose when you’re an Ultimate Fighter and a firefighter, you feel pretty secure about your manliness.

Davy – another manly man, having been an Air Force Captain – used to work with us full-time, but has since reduced his hours at the farm to three days per week.

Again, his cup might seem a rather feminine color upon first glance, but he’s okay with it. Did you see the movie “The Hurt Locker?” That’s what Davy did during two deployments to Afghanistan; one to Iraq. I doubt anybody would snigger upon seeing him drink from a lilac-colored cup.

Although we’ve mastered the multiple drinking cup issue, having six or seven people to route through the farm at any one time can sometimes prove to be a little discombobulating.

Like one morning, when Farmer John was changing out of his beekeeper suit and into his Farmer John clothes, I was in the kitchen as the first four people came in. Thinking I had the routine down pat, I looked from one end of the line to the other and verified that (blue cup) Mary would go for the chard, (yellow cup) Dana the beets, Davy the kale, and (green cup) Vicky…. Oops. I drew a blank for Vicky. In the meantime, John appeared and began talking to Davy about starting with the new potatoes, where Kris would join him when he arrived. After I suggested Vicky help Mary with chard, I reminded John about the kale.

John asked “What should Kris do, then, when he gets here?”

“Has he picked fennel before? Maybe he can harvest the fennel,” I suggested.

“He has, but that won’t take long,” John countered. At the time, Kris hadn’t dug potatoes by himself, so John was concerned about his needing Davy’s guidance. “What if Davy isn’t finished with kale when Kris gets here?”

“Well, we can figure that out later – I don’t think there’s a lot of kale, so it shouldn’t take Davy long to get it.”

My suggestion came more from desperation than as a possible solution, yet John nodded his head approvingly. To confirm the decision that Davy should harvest kale, John declared, “Potatoes it is!”

As the first three people headed out the door, Davy turned back and asked, “Um, so I’m supposed to pick kale, or…?”

Minutes later, while I was waiting for my teapot to whistle, John called out from the back room, “Kris is here! We’ll send him out to potatoes, right?”

“No!” I hollered. “He’s going to harvest FENNEL!”

This is just one example as to why, after a long day jockeying everybody – including ourselves – around the farm in the ongoing effort to try to get it all done, John and I pull out our second set of cups.

And believe me, when evening rolls around, these are some welcome cups indeed.

* * *

Here’s what we’ll have for you at the farm stand this week:

Lots and lots of beets – both purple and golden; oodles of new potatoes — Red Lasoda and Yukon Gold; the first fresh elephant garlic; snow peas; summer squashes (mostly zucchini and yellow squash); head lettuces – butterhead, romaine, red leaf & green leaf; fresh spring onions; the last of the leeks; fennel; bunches of chard; leek scapes; a bit of lettuce mix; hopefully some bunches of pink and purple radishes (depending on what the flea beetles have done to them!); and a few surprises.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm