Friday, July 3, 2009

Farmworker (for half a day)

Volunteers preparing harvested vegetables for distribution at the CSA

We spent this morning at the organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm to which we belong. It was a perfect day to put in our required minimum four hours of volunteer labor for the year--mostly cloudy and in the low 70s.

The farmer gave us our assignment when we arrived: he asked us to clear mile-a-minute vines (Polygonum perfoliatum) off a pile of highly composed leaf mulch that the farm uses for fertilizer and soil conditioner. Mile-a-minute, for those of you who don't know it, is a highly invasive nonnative vine that grows like crazy during the summer (hence its name). It was introduced from Asia in the 1940s, hitchhiking on the root ball of imported rhododendrons. Since then, it has spread insidiously throughout the East Coast. It's got tiny little recurved (i.e., facing backward) barbs along its stem that make the use of gloves mandatory.

The compost pile was also covered with Canada thistle (another nasty plant imported from overseas--not from our neighbor to the North, as its common name would suggest). So, we spent the next two hours hand-pulling the mile-a-minute and the thistle until the pile was cleared off, we were tired and drenched in sweat, and our legs and arms were itching with contact dermatitis.

After our work was completed, we had an opportunity to pick-up our food share for the week: kale, green beans, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, lettuce, and cucumbers.

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