I used to love going to the landfill with my dad — though we didn’t call it “the landfill” when I was a kid. Back then, it was “the dump.” That was before there were any issues with throwing away electronics (other than the occasional television — the kind with tubes — or transistor radio) and no one had ever heard of recycling. Nor did we have special curbside pick-up days for large items like old bed frames or rusted patio furniture. If it was too big to fit in the metal trash can sitting in the corner of the garage, any item no longer of use was piled into the trunk of the car and taken to the dump.

I don’t fully understand why a trip to the dump so delighted me. I distinctly remember the smell, which one would think would be a deterrent, but maybe it was the bizarreness of the whole experience — the idea of adding to a massive pile of stuff out in the middle of nowhere — that made it thrilling enough to overlook the stench. And I’ll never forget the day I saw a kid probably my own age happily rummaging through the things my father had just tossed into the pit. This was long, long before the advent of Craigslist, after all. Back then, with the exception of the occasional garage sale, other people’s junk was always free.

It’s kind of amazing how often my dad went to the dump (or at least how often I seem to remember he did). It’s not like my parents were farmers. Had they been, I’d more clearly understand the need for dump trips — they come with the territory when you own a farm.

While John and I eschewed the use of plastic “mulch” even as it became more and more commonly used on other farms, conventional or organic, farming does tend to generate its fair share of waste: old drip tape too riddled with holes to continue patching, frayed row cover, balls of shade cloth with far more rips than shade. We originally purchased our big trailer to haul feather meal and manure. Once we stopped using either of those for soil amendments, it became primarily a vessel for trash.

Perhaps it was due to my parents being such neatniks that dump trips were such a big part of my childhood. Mom and Dad both abhorred disorder. I, for the most part, inherited that trait, yet there’s no question the tidy gene was somehow altered before it really dug itself into my psyche. See, while it’s impossible for me to be completely comfortable unless my personal surroundings are uncluttered,

living room

I’m firmly of the out-of-sight, out-of-mind school of thought. The closet in my computer room is a perfect example.


Not only have we shoved an old dresser into the middle of it (into which I stuff my office files) but were it not for the fact we’re working on moving, it wouldn’t be much longer before I filled the remainder to the brim. The beauty of it, however? I can close the closet doors and the mess magically disappears.

John is the opposite. He’s “in charge” of washing and putting away dishes and although our kitchen cabinets are wooden with no glass through which to see what’s hidden inside, he’s a stickler about the arrangement of our yellow and pink plates.


They must be stacked yellow, pink, yellow, pink, yellow, pink, etc. Any other combination would be mayhem. No pink, pink, pink, yellow, yellow in this house! When John and I were on vacation last September, Dana, Mary and Stephen mixed them all up and emailed us a photo. I was a little surprised John didn’t hop on the next plane to come home and remedy it.

Yet here’s his tool bench, out in the open for the world to see:


Well, we all have our quirks, right? And now that we’re preparing our farm to be put on the real estate market, over the last couple weeks when John wasn’t busy protecting our remaining crops from freezes, he began the arduous process of sorting what needs to stay and what needs to go, with no regard for personal idiosyncrasies.


Already, there’s a good deal of junk. Add to it John’s workbench and my closets, and I’d wager a guess we’ll be looking at a few trips to the dump in the very near future. I can’t wait.

* * *

We’ll sneak lots of harvesting into the next two or three weeks as well! We’re reopening the farm stand this Wednesday, Jan. 9th, at 10 a.m. as usual (and will probably close at 1 p.m.). There’s a good chance of rain but you’ll find us there, regardless, with this:


Loads of broccoli! Plus many head lettuces (red butter head, green butter head, romaine, red leaf and crisp head), lettuce mix, the last of the Romanesco cauliflower, bunches of watermelon radishes, pink & purple radishes, bulk sweet white turnips, topless beets, chard, dinosaur kale, brussels greens, frond-less fennel (the freezes were too much for those tender fronds!), and anything else we find ready for harvest.

red butterhead

**Know anybody looking for a farm to call their own? We’ve enlisted the help of an excellent and highly experienced real estate broker, Bob Easter, who would be happy to talk with potential buyers. Bob is a dedicated organic gardener himself, and understands perfectly the intricacies of purchasing farm land. He can be contacted at beaster1@austin.rr.com.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stand:
Wednesdays 10:00-1:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)