Friday, September 23, 2011

The Van, Picking Day, Plastics

I definitely did not expect to write about a large, emerald colored van during the planning and fund-raising phase of this X-Country Road and Farm Adventure, and I don't really intend to write much about it now.  It's big; it's green; you can remove the back seats.  I really only intend to kill the forty-five minutes between now and the moment when, at ten o'clock on the dot, I will slip under the blankets in my bed and lie there until I fall asleep to dream about nothing and then awake in the dark, at four A.M., to a pre-loaded French press and a half-way coherent Stan, munching on granola.

We pack the van around six-thirty P.M. on Friday, after eating dinner at the local restaurant.  One night a week, we splurge on reasonably priced enchiladas.  It's an end-of-the-week ritual, a break from the work of the kitchen after the work of the field is done.  Between five and six P.M. on Fridays, we eat our food hurriedly and then return to the farm to make sandwiches, prep our coffee and clothes for the morning, and finish packing the van.  From a stash buried who knows where, Stan emerges with four small plastic bottles of Tropicana orange juice, a vital component of the return trip from the Santa Fe farmers market.  Wait, did I say "plastic" and "Tropicana" in a post about an organic farm in northern New Mexico?  Perhaps I did.

What of it?  Do you expect us to drink homemade choke-berry juice from clay jugs we fashioned and fired ourselves?  This is the 21st century, and organic farmers are like everyone else: there is plastic in our world.  The plastic shows up on the sides of our roads in the form of crushed Gatorade bottles and Solo party cups; it shows up in our fields in the form of torn little bits of Planter's peanuts packages; it shows up in the bags that line our blue picking boxes, and it definitely shows up in the drip lines that irrigate the fields.  Plastic probably shows up in our diets, too, in microscopic little particles that, a million years from now, scientists who wish to discover the mysteries of our ways will find in our hair.  Who then science will probably be the function of a swab.  Scientists will wave an ultra fine sheet of paper over a ruin, and a nano-structure robot embedded in the paper will analyze, down the the most wee details, everything that happened within that square mile over the last million years.  It will find that the heinous products of the industrial food system existed, side by side, with the wooden, 1950s era, apple picking boxes you see in the photo above.  It may even detect a trace of my urine and be able to identify the particular batch of the New Mexico brewed, Happy Camper IPA that I drank the night before I peed around the willow tree. 

The hoop house is covered in plastic.  Manufactured where?  I don't know.  The modern organic farm avoids plastic, but only to the extent that it is practical and reasonable to avoid plastic.  Plastic is useful and it has its functions.  The solar water tanks on the roof of the adobe house are probably made of some kind of plastic or fiber glass.  There might be one organic farmer somewhere who still plows his field with a horse and an iron-age plow.  He's probably also a palace of stress.  OK, eleven minutes until bed: I would be willing to hedge my bets that it's impossible to be an organic farmer in 2011 if you don't have a comfortable, if complicated relationship with plastics and all the sometimes evil, sometimes necessary trappings of the post-modern world.  I'm not writing this blog on a stone tablet.  I didn't take these pictures of this gorgeous farm with a charred stick.  The van doesn't run on primordial semen.  It runs on gasoline, and tomorrow morning, at 5 A.M., we will burn some fossil fuel to sell our organic radishes in Santa Fe, 45 miles south of our farm here in Dixon.  

Good night.  It is one minute before my bed time.

1 comment:

gspot said...

damn fine work, young man.

we here in the mines had our doubts about your motor-car journey across this strange land to the west, but I am thrilled by the photos, sir!

will be calling soon with a torch-stick of burning pitch & a horrible thirst.