by Sara Skelton
Farming is art. Of course, it could be argued that most life activities are an art form. However, the connection between art and farming first dawned on me as I held a paint brush in my hand and faced a row of poorly pollinated eggplants.
This season, we are having a pollination problem with the eggplants. The plants themselves look fine, but the flowers are not producing their fruit, which is our vegetable. There are a few reasons as to why the eggplants are not being pollinated. First, we keep the eggplants covered to protect them from pests. Unfortunately, this is also a blockade to the pollinators like the honeybees. Second, there are not many honeybees this season. Third, the honeybees that we have seen seem to be very selective. For example, they are swarming the squash plants and the funny flowering plant called a cardoon (or artichoke thistle). We are considering inviting a beekeeper to use the farm space so we can benefit from the extra pollinators buzzing around. However, for the moment, I was left with a paintbrush and carefully brushed each blossom.
The art of farming is not only confined to the paintbrush. Like the art of flower arrangement, we practice the art of vegetable arrangement. It is important that the products be presented nicely at the farmers’ market. An attractive spread draws more customers to the table. For example, instead of leaving the garlic on the stalk, we rub off all the dirt and trim the stem and roots. We then neatly pile each variety in a basket that is adorned with its own colorful sign.
Finally, beauty often inspires art, and it is easy to find the beauty in a row of fresh tomatoes flanked by purple and green basil or even a satisfying day at work on the farm.
Sara Skelton is an intern in residence at Harvest Table Farm in Meadowview, Virginia.
Hear more about their work from Harvest Table Farm Manager, Matt Sanders, on The Cultural Heart of Southwest Virginia: Authentic, Distinctive, Alive. It aired earlier today on WEHC 90.7 in Emory. Listen to it now by clicking this link:
You will also find them at the Abingdon Farmers’ Market from 7 a.m. to noon. on Saturday.
Want to learn more? The next Harvest Table Farm Tour is scheduled for Saturday, July 28. Call (276) 944-5142 for details.
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