In February I finally returned to life of the small farmer. I spent two weeks at Northdown Orchard, a vegetable farm in Basingstoke, England. I’ll introduce you to Northdown through a picture of “home life” to begin.
“I love that I spent an entire day outside under the open sky. I harvested and cleaned leeks, making them “look sexy” as Andy put it, and weighed veg for the boxes that will be distributed tomorrow. Now I’m sitting in the living room near the wood burning stove. This is right. I love the worn, unfinished wood floors of this farm house; the bookshelves that are crammed with books about everything related to farming you can imagine; the open kitchen cupboards exposing a mismatched collection of glassware, plates, and an assortment of canned goods; the clothes that hang over the fire to dry; and the simple fabric curtains draped loosely and easily by the windows. I love seeing the light shifting through the day, casting shadows across the kitchen and then smelling an easy fire, hints of pine and a whiff of yeast from the rising bread dough. This life is deeply satisfying. It’s not exactly clean but it’s not dirty either. It’s neither tidy, nor disorganized. The air is hot while sitting next to the stove, warm when gathered around the table for a meal, and cool in my room before I snuggle into bed. You take off your shoes before coming into the house, but it’s not for fear of dirt. The house exudes a worn comfort. Cats are ignored when, but not exactly welcomed to sit on the counter or table. And to top it all, I was welcomed to Northdown with a feast of roasted lamb shoulder with squash, parsnips, sprouts, rutabaga, beets, potatoes and wine. Goodness, what could be better?”