Peaches and Resilience

This particularly intense hurricane season brings on, in varying stages, thoughts about resilience.

Those of us not in the path of direct damage to our homes and towns, and too far away to serve as immediate refuge, still dry and warm here in the sun…we certainly recognize our good fortune on this particular day.  But we can also already adopt wide angle vision, consider cause and effect, and ponder or investigate how our own region might react, and invest in ways to prepare now to prevent damage and rebound from a future storm like Harvey or Irma.

Seeing photos of rows and rows of occupied shelter cots, image after image of people being lifted out of the rising waters, rescued from shelter that isn’t shelter anymore (And what is mixed into that water now?)…  What do we as individuals, families, neighborho
ods, towns, a watershed, a foodshed…what do we as humans really need to survive and thrive in the world in which we evolved?  How can we be resilient?
Last year wildly fluctuating spring temperatures fairly completely wiped out the peach crop here in Massachusetts and beyond.  (CBS Local: “Mass. Peach Crop Ruined”)


barrenpeachtrees Peach trees at Smolak Farms. (WBZ-TV)

This year my family was invited to “rescue” our friend’s two peach trees from too much fruit!  (Though the 2016 flower buds froze, the roots, branches, and leaves were largely unharmed.)  The trees bounced back, certainly.   What about the orchards?

To sustain a peach grove from year to year, a fruit grower prunes (branches, buds, early stage fruit) to remove barriers to growth and prevent extra damage.  A fruit grower also ensures that the trees have what they need from the soil, given the expectations of the tree’s biology.
To be resilient and sustain themselves in the long run, our regional farms and orchards prune regularly, but also cultivate diversity–diversity of crops, diversity of harvest schedule, diversity of markets, diversity of crew members and their tasks, diversity of harvesting methods, diversity of ways to engage the wider community of people (e.g. PYO, on-farm events, etc.).  Resilience also requires cultivating the diversity of the non-human allies all around: pollinators, larger animals (create and spread fertility), the soil organisms (more beings in a handful of healthy soil than there are humans on earth), and the forested watershed that cleans and holds the rain on the land.
The community we steadily build sustains us from day to day and year to year, and helps ensure resilience in challenging times.  Know that buying local has a multiplier effect.  And every time you learn more about growing or eating local and revel in our joyous harvest festivities, you are helping create resilience!
I’ll continue to post here about local events, starting with tomorrow’s Boston Ag Exposition (see below).  Also, this may be the last weekend to get some of those peaches!
Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury (Farmer Glenn will again send us apples for our November share.) Cider Hill still has their own peaches in the stand this weekend.  Get some after picking your apples and berries–and be among the first to try Cider Hill Cellars, hard cider made on the farm with their own special cider apples!!
Topsfield Fair gone mini and urban:
Sunday, September 10, 2017
12 Dade Street in Dudley Square
(Haley House Bakery Cafe parking lot)
11AM – 4PM, rain or shine
The Trustees, Agricultural Hall, and Haley House are partnering to create a special day devoted to the celebration and enjoyment of community gardening, backyard growing, and local agriculture. We’ll have displays, exhibits, contests, animals, old-time games and activities for kids, and tasty treats featuring locally grown and locally produced products. Plans are in the works for agricultural exhibits including beekeeping, backyard chickens, mushroom cultivation, cider pressing, composting to name just a few.  Psst: Don’t miss the goat milking and pie eating contests!