I woke up most mornings this summer in time to see the sunrise. In the beginning of the harvest season, in the half-morning light, most everyone was quiet on the truck to the fields, taking in the morning.
In the fields, I communed with strawberry plants, sorted through their tangles to find fresh berries that when picked just the right way - index and middle finger on either side of the stem, thumb lightly bracing the bottom - made a satisfying, supple pop as they released from the plant. My legs grew strong and sore from hunching over and lunging through the plants. My hands were not idle, and neither was my mind; I had space and time to let my mind wander, to acknowledge that the 40 or so of us cultivating all the strawberries, mostly college students and recent high school graduates, were doing so in time to get it to market. It was hard work, but we were only doing the back end of it; to be able to fill our quarts with strawberries, the farmers had had to plan out the quantity, prepare the land, plant and care for them for several months.
This summer was especially foggy, and a lot of days, even though the sun was rising as we picked, the ripeness of the strawberries became the only indicator of time, so leaving us in a fog of thought and cyclical action. To make sure we picked all the strawberries that were ready to be eaten, we, the harvesters with our tray carriers that held 8 quarts of strawberries each, had to pick a certain number of quarts per hour. When you had filled the 8 quarts on your carrier, you signaled to the farmers and they came to take your strawberries and give you a new set of quarts to fill. In those small moments with the farmers, we exchanged smiles and comments about the day’s strawberries, who was going to eat them and how. At the end of the shifts, we all took a few minutes, despite our tired knees, to gather some strawberries to take home, so we could savor the joy of knowing who had worked with the earth so that we could enjoy the berries’ simple sweetness.
I am grateful to the strawberries and the farmers for making me aware of just how active a role we each have in the food system at large as well as our local food systems. I had the opportunity to connect with the earth and the local food system by joining a group of farmers who feed their neighbors. I simultaneously worked with a company that seeks to change the supply chain system as we know it. After working in the fields, I would go home with berry-stained hands. I would stretch my legs and then my mind towards Agromovil and what I could do to support a great change for our farmers and our world.
Communications & Grants Intern