- Green cabbage
- Cut Lettuce Mix
- Sunflower Shoots
- Hakurei Turnips
- Baby Carrots
- Curly Parsley
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli
- One LAST Leek!
Last Wednesday, after months of cold relentless winter, the sun began to shine. The forecast up until that point had been so fickle that it was hard to trust the little sun icons on my weather app, but nevertheless, there they were: Wednesday afternoon through Saturday night, 84 hours of tenuous possibility for an increasingly desperate farmer. I started crafting a master plan for our 3.5 days of promised sun - a plan that would hopefully catch us up on two months of farming and a spring season that had thus far been jinxed completely by the weather. At that moment in time, our propagation greenhouse was busting at the seams with thousands of waiting transplants, many of which should have been planted outside a month ago, and we had yet to break ground anywhere in the field (something we usually start doing in February).
The problem was, it had rained 3+ inches at the start of the week, so even though the clouds were finally breaking up, our fields were saturated. If it dried up enough to get into the field, it wouldn't be until the last possible moment - Saturday. And should we be lucky enough to get the conditions we needed to work up some beds with the tractor, we were going to have to pull off 4 weeks worth of transplanting in one day, with half our crew on vacation. There was an element of desperate faith laced throughout this master plan.
Leading up to Saturday would be a flurry of preparation: rolling back the occultation tarps that we had deployed back in February - insurance against exactly this kind of winter, which disallows any early ground prep (over the course of 6-8 weeks, the tarps kill the cover crops, leaving us with bare ground that dries out much more quickly once we get a sunny window). We'd also be mowing, weeding, weedeating - all things we need dry weather for - and last, but not least, spreading 15 tons of amendements on the field (a custom blend of calcium carbonate and micronutrients to help bring our soil into balance for the growing season to come). It was a to-do list to beat all to-do lists.
And then early Friday morning while rolling out the kinks on my yoga mat in anticipation of our 15-ton day, we got the news from halfway around the world that my dad had died. He was off the east coast of Africa on a trip of a lifetime, sailing around the world with my step-mom, Katy. He died of unexpected medical complications at the age of 73. His name, which many of you know from his lifetime in public service in Oregon, is Bill Bradbury: state Representative, state Senator, Senate President, Secretary of State. He was the innovator of Oregon's vote-by-mail system, a climate warrior, and a champion of watershed restoration, wild salmon, land use, renewable energy, and campaign finance transparency. He was an avid whitewater enthusiast, sailor, pilot, lover of all things wild and beautiful and free, and there was no one who appreciated food more than he did (somehow every meal he ate was the best meal he had ever eaten - which pretty much sums up how he approached life: unbridled enthusiasm about everything). He was a big, warm, redwood tree of a man at 6'4" with a huge, twinkling, goofy grin, an unmistakable laugh, and a tireless dedication to making positive change in his beloved state, and beyond. He was also the best dad on earth. Bill Bradbury was all of this, in spite of fighting a 43-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis, which eventually confined his body, but never his irrepressible spirit, to a wheelchair.
My dad died on a precious, dry, sunny Friday, and all I could think was: I wish it would rain. Rain so that I could stop everything and stay home and lay still and try to make sense of it. But instead, Abby and I suited up in a shocked stupor and spent the next twelve hours spreading our 15 tons of calcium on the field. It was her birthday, and despite the world turning upside down, it was wonderful to spend the entire day with my sister to process, remember, and feel grateful for the fact that it was our dad who stumbled upon Floras Creek almost 50 years ago and traded a short-order restaurant in Bandon for the farm. The rest is history, made manifest in your CSA tote today (if there is anyone to thank for your veggies this week, give credit to my dad for that serendipitous impulse in 1975).
Before we called it a day to go celebrate a subdued version of my sister's birthday, I had to spend another half hour on the tractor in preparation for our big Saturday plant-out. The evening light was pouring into the valley from the west, lighting up every living thing on the farm. It was heartbreakingly beautiful. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and I suddenly felt the presence of my dad in everything. In the dipping flitting swallows, the apple blossoms, the new buds on the kiwi vines, the easter-green grass, the rich brown earth, and also, I realized, in me. He loved wild, beautiful places and would always say - on a river trip, or at pretty overlook - “this is my cathedral!” (exuberantly of course, with his arms thrown wide). In that moment I felt like I was in his church and I was so grateful he was there with me.
On Saturday, the planting commenced. Roberto and I started at 8 am and were soon joined by my mom, then my husband, then my girls and my nephews. We worked together all day, past dark, and planted every last start. On Sunday morning, right on cue, the rain blew in again. And as it's poured down these past few days, the condolences have poured in - an overwhelming deluge of love and support from so many people who knew and loved my dad, and from people who never had a chance to meet him but respected and appreciated all he fought for and stood for in Oregon. To everyone who has shared their kindness with my family these past few days, whether we have met or not, thank you so much. It means the world to know that his stone has made a wide and beautiful ripple.
I am proud of our dad for the legacy he leaves Oregon, and grateful for what he helped instill in us: the instinct to create some kind of positive change on this planet (not to mention, a great love of good food). But more than anything I thank him for this family, and for this homeland. I wish more than anything he was still here with us, that enormous, joyful laugh echoing down the valley.