Many thanks to the guest writers, Lee Anne and Michelle, for a couple of really good stories. The inner nosy parker must have glimpses into other people’s lives, and reading those stories gave great satisfaction.
So here we are in March, and the signs of spring are mounting. For example, today I thought about hanging laundry out on the line — a most emphatic sign of spring. I must point out as an aside that my mom’s clothes line is not a good indicator because she’ll hang out her sheets in the first break between pelting rain and snow which might be in January, and not at all spring. March, however, is when it really starts to mean something.
I like to take a holiday in March. With the weather themes swinging drunkenly between bright spring and deep winter, a missed week or two of work hardly seems to matter. Having done so, I now settle down to a serious contemplation of the pending start to the season. I still find it hard to do much actual work.
The thing about March is this: the jobs list is not extensive, and rarely is it urgent, but if I don’t check things off it, I will be behind for the rest of the season. In its own way, March is as demanding as August.
Until our farm got busy enough to keep me occupied most of the time, I often worked for other farmers in the valley at this time of year, sorting potatoes on seed potato farms. This is normally a very busy time of year for those farmers, whose seed potatoes are trucked out for planting all over the western states and provinces. Every so often however, the market tanks for some reason — the perils of dealing in the conventional commodity market. This year, an eight per cent overproduction thousands of miles away is causing a certain amount of concern right here at home.
I am not going to talk about it anymore because I know for certain that those farmers are trying not to dwell on it. May that phone start ringing with truckload orders.
On to the next thing.
I must discuss a point of indignation. The other day I delivered a box of potatoes to a store because the shopkeeper, having been harangued by a customer for carrying local conventional potatoes instead of organic ones, was keen.
I obviously have not reached every person out there yet because if I had, that customer would realize that selling to a grocery store is actually a money losing proposition for us and for most organic farms and we won’t do it if we don’t have to. Mostly due to our smaller economies of scale, we must strive to capture as many of the cost centres as possible — production, processing, transportation, marketing, and retail. Selling for wholesale cuts into profits rather egregiously and is usually done as a last resort. We sell to this shop because we like it and want to support it somehow. That customer needs to know this.
I am encouraging the shopkeeper to stick with the local conventional potato, the producer of which is very motivated to sell given the current weakness of their other market, seed potatoes. For the cost of washing, boxing and a 30-minute truck trip, the farmer can get double or more than they would for the unwashed bulk truckload. Unlike reluctant sellers like me, they will weekly deliver lovely potatoes for a good price.
Sure they are sprayed and chemically fertilized, but they are grown in good Pemberton soil by real Pemberton farmers and I myself would eat them over a USDA National Organic Program potato any day of the week, and I can’t say fairer than that.
Anna Helmer has flipped through the channels and stared into the maw of platitudes, generalizations, and thought-destroying clichés.