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Silver Linings – #17525 Pete Treiber

What I wanted most in 2020, my fifth season on Treiber Farms, was structure, organization, and overall peace of mind.  Heck, maybe even a little time off.  The first few seasons had taken their toll in the way of stress brought on by the steep learning curves of working in a new field, literally and figuratively, and what seemed like an ever-flowing, constant, insurmountable amount of work.  Stewarding the land is no joke. It takes years to understand all the subtleties of how particular things like to grow in particular places. I could bore all of you with some soil science jargon, but I’ll spare you this go around.  We’ve started to figure out some of the finer farming details but then, when the weeds are up to our eyeballs in July, we must also focus on the marketing and management side of the farming business.  This includes but is not limited to; wholesale, retail, partnerships, collaborations, one-off events, community engagement, newsletters, social media, and on and on.

I wore most of these hats the first four seasons and my weary head couldn’t take the weight anymore. So, I hired a manager! What a concept!  Her name is Jocelyn, she started in February and she helped bring about the changes that we needed in what felt like a pivotal moment on our farm.  To use a hike hut analogy, she took the extra tent poles and bear canister (I feel like those were some of the more cumbersome pack items) and my pack was feeling substantially more manageable.  I started to feel like I could enjoy my life on the farm a bit more each day.

With Jocelyn on board, everything seemed to fall into place, even as the world around us fell into uncertainty and disorder.  Certain areas of the farm started to get cleaned up and organized.  The greenhouse space was reimagined.  We started to plan and execute building projects that seemed like distant thoughts.  A washing and packing station for all the crops coming out of the field.  A new high tunnel (think greenhouse with no heat source) structure for extending our seasons.  We dreamed up a roadside farm stand for the busy summer months.  Both of our newsletters started coming out regularly and with a new invigorated voice.  All in all, we were running more efficiently, and more importantly, the positive vibes were at an all-time high.

It should be mentioned that the state of the world certainly had its effects on our little farm bubble, but a lot of it we chose to make the best of, and here are some examples.  People moved out to our area of Long Island in droves in March and April, providing us a customer base that wouldn’t normally be around until May and June.  By some good grace, we had a greenhouse full of ready to pick vegetables, freezers full of other products like chicken and chicken stock, and a newly launched online shopping page on our website.  We sold out of everything.  We used the website to help other local producers sell products like oysters and kimchi, as their means for moving their goods were limited or eliminated altogether.  I had dreamed of collaborating with other farms and food makers, now we could help in a real way.

I could seriously go on and on about all the big and little things that transpired over the course of this past season that I and we took away as positive outcomes, the silver linings in an obviously difficult year, but that would take more than a newsletter.   I was primed and ready for some serious change and with it, a serious slowdown.  Distractions of any kind were down to a trickle.  No events, no personal travel, no big social obligations.  This was the time to just ‘be here’, like Langfu used to say at the ropes course.  I had more time for my family.  More time to speak with my Duds Buds, near and far.  More opportunities to take my dog to the beach.  More time to have delicious, farm-fresh team lunches during the workday.  More time to make the space we live and work in more beautiful; planting beds and borders everywhere. More time to focus on the essential parts of life.

This was the best year I have had since moving out to the farm nearly five years ago and I am grateful for every minute of it.

 

Connect with Treiber Farms:
Web: treiberfarms.com
Instagram: @Treiberfarms

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