Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts Turn to Farming

Late-breaking news: The remarkable Aine Greaney graciously invited me to guest post on her blog about writing with a day job. Thanks, Aine. Anybody out there who hasn't read Dance Lessons and her other work, you should. And we'd love you to stop by and leave a comment. How do you integrate your day job with your creative work?

Now, about farms. Farms, you say? Sure. Think organic. Think local foods. Think Commun
ity Supported Agriculture. Think the Five Star Organic Farm in the early nineties in my former town of West Newbury. It was the smallest organic farm in Essex County, Massachusetts. It was certified organic by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) and I was the farmer.

Nestled up against the Merrimac River, our small piece of land enabled me to grow a
nd sell vegetables and fruits. My (now-ex) husband hauled manure and turned compost, and we were co-owners, but I was the full-time farmer. I was home with our little children after leaving a job in hi-tech when they wouldn't offer part-time work or flexible hours. I'd always wanted to grow more food on a larger plot than a small kitchen garden. The chance arose and we seized it.

Farming is really hard work, and it's drudge work. Aerobic exercise, it's not. But you get to be outdoors with the seasons and the birds and the earth. As a day job you can do a lot worse.
I sold at the Newburyport Farmer's Market. I put up an honor-system farmstand out on the road. And I started a Community Supported Agriculture program in 1993, an early bud in a now-blossoming trend.

When I started writing mystery fiction during the last year of my farming life, my first book featured a female organic farmer and the intrigues of her life. I didn't finish that book. Looking back I realize how much of a novice writer I was then.

I'm now d
usting off and updating that character for a possible new series, and I'm having a blast. Cam Flaherty has a CSA that includes a Locavore Club, the leader of which has read Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal Vegetable Miracle. The farm has a Facebook page. The potential for mayhem on an organic farm seems without limit.

Stay tuned!
Let me know your ideas for locavore lunacy, your experience with CSAs, what organic means or doesn't mean to you.


  1. LOVE local food! Our farmers' market has closed for the season, which makes me very sad. :( A group called Grassroots Locavores just started in this area. Very nice people, but sometimes I think they grow stuff just to be astounding, like yard-long beans. I'm like, "WHY?" Regular beans taste just fine. ~scratching my head~

    I've never subscribed to a CSA, because I want to choose my own food.

    Your series sounds like one I would like, especially if you include recipes. I'm all about the food. ;)

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  2. Thanks, Marian. I'll let you know what happens with this idea (and I'll absolutely be including recipes). I also grieve when the market closes for the fall.

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