Farming, like many of the sweet things in life, asks for your patience, diligence, commitment, love and faith. Days of watering. Weeks of waiting. Months of weeding and watching and, yes, even worrying. You get dirty. Your hands get worn. Your muscles ache. You finish your days exhausted, filthy and satisfied.
And after 9 months of patiently waiting, working, weeding and watering, The Great Garlic Planting of 2014 was ready for harvest. My brother Ben is the garlic master on the Ricter Farm. And as with all of Ben's endeavors on the farm, The Great Garlic Harvest of 2015 brought together friends and family, all working together, digging, cleaning, bundling, and hanging the garlic while laughing, sweating and telling stories.
Harvesting this much garlic isn't a simple task. It took 3 days of dedication to hand pick it from the soil and get it ready for curing, which takes another 3-4 weeks. It's a delicate process. Who knew garlic was so finicky? (To be honest, in my kitchen I'm pretty rough with the stuff.) Once pulled from the nutrient dense earth, the garlic has to be moved to shade so it doesn't sit in the hot sun. And garlic bruises easily, so the work has to be done with care.
Once it's hung and cured, the garlic stems and roots are trimmed, and the dirt cleaned off. Then, and only then, do you have the finished product - 7500 gorgeous garlic bulbs, far more amazing in fragrance and taste and texture than anything you can buy in the store.
And this garlic, it's beautiful stuff.
It's fascinating to learn the entire process that brings the food we eat to our table. Everything our food has gone through before it finds its way to our farm stand or grocery store is a bit of a mystery, and rarely something we consider. But it's important. Garlic is a staple for our household, but I've never thought much about the planting, growing, harvesting and preparation of this fabulous food. Next time I'm preparing a homemade spaghetti sauce, I'm going to give my garlic a bit more respect.
Ben is a farmer in heart and soul. The energy he put into this year's garlic crop was inspiring. It takes planning and research and work and care and worry and anticipation and love. And you don't know if it will all pay off until the moment you start the harvest, 9 months after you planted. It's slow. And this is a world where we expect constant feedback, immediate gratification, everything available at the moment we want it. I believe these slow practices, the ones that require us to work and wait and work and wait and wait, these are the things that put us in balance.