We are hoping that Chelsea, our CSA intern for the summer, will write a blog post at some point, but we’re not pressuring her. And I certainly won’t try and suggest how she might be experiencing Sunflower Farm, what with working with a totally awesome farmer who has great taste in music and movies and is just as funny as can be.  Nope, I won’t even try to imagine how great it must be.

I will venture to say that Chelsea has been having a pretty profound effect on Sunflower Farm, and it’s all positive.  There is a very palpable, positive energy that is at work these days. This has always been a special place and I always feel positive energy emanating from the trees and the soil and the rocks and our renewable energy system. This is different though.

This is a kind of balancing energy that’s making everything seem more in harmony. Now admittedly much of this is weed related. Last year the weeds got away from us and this was a very bad thing because weeds that don’t get pulled go to seed. And weeds produce seed prodigiously so the following year when all those seeds germinate it’s horrendous. And when you’ve had historic, epic rain like we experienced this spring and early summer, the problem is exacerbated.  Bare soil becomes a green mat of weeds in about 24 hours.

The best year we ever had for weeds was the one ‘after’ we made our gardening DVD (available here.) Our younger daughter Katie was home from university for the summer and so she did most of the filming and editing. I devoted more time than usual to weeding to keep the garden looking great for our next recording session. Every time I’ve watched the DVD since then I have this momentary confusion about what garden I actually filmed it in. It’s so weed-free I can’t recognize it! The bonus was that by keeping on top of the weeds that year they were much easier to control the following summer.

So this year one of Chelsea’s biggest jobs has been trying to stay ahead of the weeds. She’s doing an awesome job and I enjoy admiring the weed-free rows after she has worked her magic.

She is also getting up to speed on planting and I’m at the stage where I can say “please plant another couple of rows of buttercrunch lettuce transplants and basil’ and she just does it. It’s such a joy to meet an independent, fast learner. The challenge with WWOOFers or other volunteers who come to the farm for a short of time is that after a week or two of instruction they’re usually ready to move on so you never get the productivity return you’re hoping for.

Chelsea is a fast learner and happy to work independently. I’m sure it’s because I’m obnoxious to work with, but I’m happy as long as she’s happy. She is also very flexible in terms of her start time each morning which really helps us because every day seems to have a unique requirement for what needs to be done so the start time varies every day.

I have to admit that my biggest concern with having someone here for the summer is getting out of the groove (or is it a rut?) that Michelle and I are in to. I let the chickens out of the coop at about 6 am and I tend to work all out until dinner time which is around 6 pm. Some nights I might have the energy to take on a low-energy task like cutting fencing to make tomato cages, but I’ll be honest. Regardless of how many calories I eat in a day, and how much protein and carbohydrates I can consume,  I am no spring chicken in the energy department after dinner.

So as much as evenings should probably be spent reading classic literature and discussing existentialism, more often than not we spend them watching another episode of “Orange is the New Black.” I’d like to be able to work 16 hours a day, but 11 or 12 seems to be my max with the heat and humidity this time of the year. And Chelsea is down with this. And even though she’s welcome to hang around in the main house she often heads off to the guesthouse to paint or read or whatever else she is inspired to spend her spare time doing.

As we work together or eat meals together we’ve had a lot of time to talk and we are getting a very good idea of Chelsea’s world view and why she chose to the spend the summer learning how to run a CSA and grow food. And it seems to be very much in keeping with our impression of things. Over the years we have accumulated a number of documentaries on DVD and so she often chooses one to watch on a laptop in the evenings. I strongly advise against her watching them because I’ve never met a documentary that isn’t a recipe for mild to extreme depression, but she does it voluntarily and we often discuss what she’s watched later.

The gardens are looking great and we’re on top of planting and weeding. This is a fantastic thing. We have someone here to learn so we can share what we’ve learned and I find this whole having to explain things often leads to this little personal introspection that where we live and what we do is actually pretty cool. These moments of self-analysis are pretty uplifting and a needed respite in a busy, hot, exhausting time of the year.

And having a young, strong back for picking berries and hauling boxes of produce around has been wonderful.

When you think of the number of things that could go wrong inviting a complete stranger into your house for the summer, like issues with diet and lifestyle and political leanings or anything else that could cause tension, we are really quite amazed at how well Chelsea has just fit right in here. She works hard, has a bright disposition, is always asking for other things she could be doing, and most of all, tolerates living with someone like me which has to be considered a Herculean task unto itself.

The planets aligned and somehow Chelsea managed to find our small ad looking for a CSA intern on the big old internet. Now if the universe would just send those 6 winning lottery ticket numbers I’ve been waiting for all, will be well with the world.  And yes, I need to get over the lottery thing.

lettuce prep

filling CSA boxes