Thoughts on Rural Roots' Season So Far

Did you know I have a social media “strategy”? Alright, calling it a strategy might be a bit precious. My "strategy" consists of a free Clearview Auto Centre calendar (you know the ones -- this one is Scenes of Ontario) and colour coded sharpies to mark important dates for Rural Roots: The dates of Farmers’ Markets; our Spring Sale weekends in May and June; our Community Supported Agriculture Program from July to October; when people have DIY buckets of cut flowers ordered for events; weddings that I am "flowering" for; when our Self Serve on the farm will start...... we have a lot going on, and having an overview of it all in one place is helpful, as a way to see broad overview of the year. Then during my downtime early in the New Year, I plan for a few posts for each, scheduled so that they let people know about some things a few months or a week out, or the day of, if necessary. I leave most of the space for sharing what's going on "in the moment" because those are my favourite things to share, and I find it easier to share these moments than the informational/selling posts.

Besides, how do I share these informational posts when things are changing weekly, if not daily? Nine or ten days ago (Has it only been 9 or 10 days? Has it already been 9 or 10 days?), my biggest concerns were getting my spring projects done on time (I had SO MANY things planned for spring 2020: new infrastructure, changing around greenhouses, adding new sales avenues) and entertaining the Future Farmer for one week for March Break. Then the hits came fast and quick and just one and a half weeks later, my worries are vastly different: Are the people I love safe? Will I be able to open in less than two months? Will people be in a position to buy things if I can? Should I grow all vegetables? How do we entertain the Future Farmer indefinitely now? What do I do if the Farmers’ Market is cancelled? If people have to cancel weddings? If non-essential businesses have to close? (I know I think flowers are essential, but the fact is, they aren’t -- Just highly seasonal and perishable.) These are the questions that swirl all day, and don’t abate at night, when I would usually fall asleep within minutes after a day of lugging heavy bales of soil and being outside in all weather. (As a sidenote, the Handsome Goat Farmer does not have this problem, and is asleep in seconds. If you are having trouble sleeping as well, the solution might be a diet of 4am wakeups, 16 hour work days with hundreds of goats who don’t know the meaning of the word Covid-19, plus the help of a not-super-helpful 5 year old. Or deep breathing exercises.)

I know I'm not alone in any of these concerns. One of the strangest things about this virus is how we really are all in the same situation. Everyone loves somebody who is more at risk. Everyone is trying to walk the line between staying calm and being aware. Every business owner is trying to balance between the safety of their community and employees and customers versus their responsibilities to their community and employees, and customers. I’ve seen so many truly thoughtful responses to this crisis, from all sides. We are all in this together.

In any given day hour, I oscillate wildly between trying to take things "Day-by-day" (So not a skill of mine!), and "Must make lists! Must have Plans B through Q ready to go!" We're already making changes. I am putting off a lot of projects that I was dearly looking forward to accomplishing this year (looking at you, furnace that means I wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to stock the woodstove) because I don't know where the business will be in a couple of months. My customer seed rack arrived yesterday and I wondered as I unboxed it whether there was a point. I have to make decisions SOON about the Spring Deliveries of our Four Season Urn Club, which usually go out around the second week of April. I stopped advertising it, because advertising almost anything in this climate seems antithetical to everything I believe we need to be doing right now. And ultimately, decisions about Spring Sales on the Farm might be out of my control, if non-essential businesses are closed. At the very least, they will look vastly different than in previous years. As for the CSA, well, the fact that CSA signup forms are still appearing in my inbox brings tears to eyes. A central tenant of COMMUNITY Supported Agriculture is an agreement between my members and me, one where I commit to growing the tastiest and healthiest food I can, and they commit to sharing in the joys and challenges associated with growing that food. This means that we will do absolutely everything we can to fulfill that commitment to our amazing members, no matter what form it takes.

At this point, we have absolutely no idea how our season is going to play out. (The uncertainty is the hardest part in some ways, isn’t it?) But know we’re doing everything we can to balance providing our lovingly grown flowers and vegetables, while keeping you safe. Right now, that means plugging away alone here while self-isolating. If you can, PLEASE self-isolate. One of the best things I heard in recent days was a public health official (Can’t remember which one, but my new hero is Dr. Theresa Tam) saying that their goal is always to be vilified in the media after a crisis is over, because if they are being called alarmist and people are complaining that they overreacted, what that actually means is that they DID THEIR JOBS AND AVERTED THE WORST OF THE INCIDENT. Imagine that -- A job where your entire job is to do it so well that people are mad at you when you’re done! (Like my mom said about parenting teenagers once: “If they all like you all the time, you’re not doing it right.”)

The fact is there is so much up in the air right now and I feel unequal to the task of trying to predict what will happen next week, let alone for the kickoff to the gardening season in, oh, 8 weeks, give or take. But my Seeding Schedule starts today. The baby plants arrive in one week and have to be planted (they were ordered in the fall and paid for already). Every time you sow seeds or tuck baby transplants into pots, it is an act of faith that they will grow and flourish and provide food for the body or the soul. I guess this year we’re just going to be doing that with a lot more faith.


(HUGE thanks go to Sandra B for the giant box of crafts for the Future Farmer, which is the only reason I was able to finish this post after 3 days of trying to write it. The Future Farmer is currently happily ensconced in crafts in the living room, making Christmas ornaments with her face on them out of popsicle sticks and glitter for a long list of lucky recipients. My carpet may never recover. Now if you'll excuse me, her breakfast order has just come in: a bagel, canned peaches, "lie down flat" eggs, and an orange cut "like yesterday" - in thin slices.)

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2674 County Rd 42, Stayner, ON L0M 1S0, Canada

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