Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mr. Eisenhower Said it Best.

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

As some of you may know, I am just a short 9 months away from completing my degree in Agriculture from California State University, Chico. Call me crazy, but when I day dream, I float off to a land  of planning field directions, crop rotations, irrigation systems, tractors and cover crops. Yes, I want be a farmer. 

My degree requires an internship, and I completed mine just a couple of weeks ago. Let me tell you, we do an awful lot of talking about farming while I am in school but very little actual farming. Mr. Dwight D. Eisenhower couldn't have said it more precisely. Talking and writing about farming is one thing, but doing it? HA! That's an entirely separate ball bark. In a different city. In a different country. Writing and reading and presenting about farming, heck even gardening, that stuff's easy. Farming is hard. I worked 40 hours a week and Steve and Lisa work faaarrrr more than that. It's hot and you're constantly dirty, varying body parts hurt when you finish the day, and the to-do list is never ending. And I loved just about every minute of it. Except for weeding, I won't lie, I didn't love weeding. I highly value my education, but after the experience and knowledge I gained this summer, I might value practicing my education more. 

I interned for an incredible couple, Lisa and Steve Pilz, at Pilz Produce in Penryn, California. I could not have paid for the amount of knowledge I obtained during my two months there. And wow, just look at the things I was lucky enough to see every day. 


A pensive looking sunflower.



A snapshot of a view of the fields when I first arrived. They look nothing like this now, they're all grown up!



The lovely view of Penryn, Rocklin and wayyyyyy out there in the distance, Sacramento.


Lisa let me pick sunflowers with her one chilly morning. All mornings should start with picking sunflowers. It's a lovely task to do when you first wake up. 


The incredible, cathedral-esque view from underneath the citrus trees.


Purdy tomatoes. 


Tractor practice always makes me nervous. That's my nervous smile. 


Candy yellow onions layin' out to cure. 


I was lucky enough to be able to work at the Auburn farmer's markets on Saturdays. Those days were definitely some of my favorite parts of the internship. If you've never been to a farmers market, you should go. I'll say it again, go to a farmers market. Meet a farmer, introduce yourself, ask them questions. And then when you go home, lay out everything you bought, revel in how good it feels to shop local and support (literally) the hands that feed you and then make a kick-ass dinner. Do it! 


Striped Armenian cucumbers. These things are crazy! They're like a foot and a half long! 


Did I mention we grew melons? Oh, well we did. More melons than I had ever laid eyes on in my life. Watermelons (orange flesh, yellow flesh, red seeded and red seedless), Crenshaw melons, Cantaloupe melons, Jenny Lind melons, Canary melons, Rockyford Greenflesh melons, Honeydew melons, Charentais Melons and Orange Fleshed Honeydew melons. And we were allowed to break open the iffy ones in the field and eat them right there. And when it's 102 degrees outside and you've sweated out all the liquid you've drank, a juicy watermelon that's been cracked open with a dirty pocket knife  tastes damn good. You may think I'm exaggerating, but it's an experience that brings you right back down to earth and reminds you of just how easy we have it. 


Persimmons taking their time to grow on the trees.


Flowers.


Dill. Yum. 


Juliette tomatoes. They turn a beautiful red color when they're all ripe and look like christmas ornaments hanging from the vine. Just lovely. 


Pomegranate blossoms. 

I could share hundreds more photographs, but then I might bore you. If I haven't all ready. Anyway, I can't wrap this up until I make an ENORMOUS shout-out to Steve and Lisa Pilz for their patience, understanding, willingness to share, and overall amazing-ness. Thank you so much. I had an incredible 2 months and I simply can't wait to return!