A Touch of Green

Farming is a perennial journey. Every year we meet both triumph and defeat in the face of changing seasons and unpredictable weather. You've probably heard us say this before, but its worth sharing a bit more of the experience. 

Last year, we lost nearly our entire lavender field to a volatile, wet winter season. After some time of mourning,  we went at it again, planting the field with a new flush of lavender, being sure to mix 3 gallons of limestone gravel in every hole for drainage, and made a plan for winter protection. Things seemed hopeful as the lavender grew according to our plan. Then, we had to endure the wettest growing season our region has ever seen. Ever!!! 71.82 inches of rain, more than double the yearly average in Maryland. It looked like we'd lose the field all over again. But we stuck to the plan: protect the plants from heavy wind with erosion control fencing and defending from freezing rain and temperature swings with a protective blanket of row cover. The plan meant being extremely vigilant to weather forecasts all winter. Then, hours in the field, through driving sleet, whipping blizzards and freezing nights, pulling row cover off and back on to keep both plants and the cover itself safe. It felt good to be doing something that we hoped was making a difference. But plants are dormant that time of year and you can't really tell whether or not everything is dead or alive. Gotta be patient if you want to play this game.

Eventually spring sprung and little by little we began to see splashes of green fill out in the leaves. It wasn't much at first, but we knew it was a good sign because at this point last year, every lavender plant was simply dark black dead. Now, the green has continued to fill in, and it is clear, the plants survived. The field doesn't look perfect. There is still a lot of brown out there where plants died back from moisture damage or some wind exposure and we definitely experienced some loss; but, we flipped the script. Last year, we did nothing and lost 70% of the field. This year we reacted to those lessons, and in the face of an even worse season, kept 70% of that field alive.

This is the path chosen as a grower. As stated earlier, farming is a perennial journey. It provides constant eduction in an environment that is always changing. There is rarely a "right answer" and almost never instant gratification on seeing something work out as your doing it. To discover success, there is a lot of time spend slogging without feedback, holding onto a purpose that brought you here. 

Helen Norman