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Beyond busy

Sometimes it’s hard to plan for the future when you’re wrapped up in the now, the mo


April 17, 2008
By Marg Land


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Sometimes it’s hard to plan for the future when you’re wrapped up in the now, the moment.

Sometimes it’s hard to plan for the future when you’re wrapped up in the now, the moment.

My parents are currently in that “zone,” the insanity known as the annual marketing season. They currently sell three days per week at two farmers’ markets in southwestern Ontario – Tuesday in Aylmer, followed by Friday and Saturday in Brantford. While this is probably not as heavy a schedule as some producers keep, it has them extremely busy. Every year, they threaten to “cut back” or retire from the vegetable business altogether. But spring rolls around and the seed catalogs end up being well thumbed once again.

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Because of their schedule, in our family, Sunday is literally known as a day of rest, a well deserved break needed to recuperate from the previous six days of field management, harvesting, cleaning and packing followed by long days of marketing. If you want to actually be able to find my mom and dad, you can only really visit them on a Sunday, otherwise you’ll find yourself driving through dusty farm fields, chatting in a backfield somewhere as you harvest freshly dug potatoes or making change for a customer as you discuss the newest accomplishments of their youngest grandchild.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, my daughter has spent many an hour crouched under a folding table singing “London Bridge is Falling Down” while passing ripe tomatoes up for her grandmother to pack. And some of my son’s baby milestones were marked in a cardboard box set on the tailgate of my parent’s “farm” truck, as I helped out at market during my last maternity leave. But trying to keep track of an adventurous four-year-old and fearless toddler while a potato digger is rumbling through the field just metres from them can be hard on one’s nerves.

So summer visiting is somewhat limited at my parent’s farm. Most of our communicating is carried out during weekly phone conversations. My mother recounts happenings in her neighbourhood and at market or discusses the conditions of the various crops while I regale her with the antics of her two youngest grandkids, recount the happenings in my neighbourhood and comment on the conditions of the hay crop and our farm’s various animals. It’s a comforting schedule, usually kept by my mother. After all, when I phone their house, they’re never in. And you can’t phone after 7:30 p.m. most of the week because they just may be asleep, resting up for the next day’s 4 a.m. start.

It’s a hectic life for two 60-plus “retirees” (that’s laughable) who decided to farm full-time after leaving their careers. And one that sometimes shames me into silence when I whine about balancing a full-time career along with two little kids, a husband with an equally challenging and busy career, a hyperactive dog, a glorified living lawn ornament (also known as a horse) and all the other jobs and paraphernalia which comes along with farm life.

When my day is done, I can look to the future – a long bath, the weekend, an upcoming holiday at a lakeside cottage. For my parents, during market “season,” the closest thing to a discussion of the future is which crop needs to be harvested next and when can they squeeze in dinner. For them, the future is on hold for now; once the work is over for the season, then they can think to the future.

And speaking of the future, be sure to mark off the dates February 15 and 16, 2006. Those are the official dates for the annual Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention, held at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. Sessions are currently being planned and details will be announced in future issues of Fruit & Vegetable Magazine.


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