Thursday, June 14, 2007

Berry Berry Good

My back aches, my clothes are dirty, and I'm getting up before 9am every day. I have at least a dozen mosquito bites and my hands feel raw. I also have the omnipresent 'farmer's burn' - sunburn along a strip of my lower back where my shirt doesn't always cover. I'm exhausted and don't think the dirt under my nails will ever leave. And... I love it!

Those of you reading this probably know that one of the reasons I moved to Burlington was the food. The local food - the support of local agriculture. The thriving urban agricultural project known as the Intervale.

I have the great fortune of working for Adam's Berry Farm at the Intervale this summer, and I could not be more excited about how I am spending my days. Several of Adam's 10 varieties of strawberries are now in season - which means they have to be picked - fast! Ripe strawberries on the vine quickly go from juice-running-down-your-chin-perfection to mushy and moldy, so workers are harvesting berries for several hours each morning to gather ripe ones for sales to grocery stores, restaurants, and, as of today, farmers' markets.

Several days a week I will spend my mornings picking berries (strawberries for now - blueberries and raspberries later in the summer) and will spend afternoons either weeding or bringing berries to one of the local farmers markets. After the months of long grey winter days in Vermont, people are ecstatic to see the fresh local foods at farmers' markets. I'm excited to be at the market - selling, talking, meeting new people, arranging the berries 'just so' in the boxes to look presentable - and the people shopping are excited to be there as well - happy to be supporting local agriculture and buying freshly picked produce directly from the farmer (or close to it, in my case). And of course we are both happy to be eating plump ripe pockets of strawberry goodness.

So, I deal with the mosquitoes and spiders, the well-camouflaged frogs jumping out of the rows of berries startling me and the occasional sharp sting from stinging nettle and milk thistle plants... all for that perfect mouthful of (almost) summer happiness.

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