Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Treachery


I had a long day at the barn, yesterday, selecting, cleaning, and culling bulbs for market. The humidity and temperature fluctuations have not been kind as I lose about 15% to mold. The mold is on the inside of the clove skins, so it turns up simply as a soft bulb or clove and is discarded. This problem is consistent across all the varieties I sampled, except for one. Can you guess which it is? No surprise that it is the variety that all the northeastern farmers grow and sell at farmers' markets, the Porcelain. It took me a whole season to discover that this is likely the primary reason farmers have only this one variety. The yield will be far too reduced in the other varieties for them to remain profitable.

While I was trying to get my work done yesterday, a farmer leasing from the trust pestered me with lecture and questions. This a farmer who could give as little as a wave, a smile, or a hello when we were introduced or as I returned with my harvest over a month's time. There's only three of us at the barn and I simply couldn't understand the problem. I didn't even have to avoid her, she ignored me, but I would continue to wave and say hello.

Again, while I was pulling garlic bundles, she decided to lecture me about the unsustainability of my operation (I don't know where you are coming from, but all that driving), about how unlikely it is that I would make any money (she's throwing out figures, estimating my crop numbers), in fact how foolish it is to even try (cause you won't). She tells me I need to find land closer to NYC, maybe Nassau or Jersey and I'm starting to feel, in this one-sided conversation, that she's hoping to get rid of me.

After this, she goes into a bit about other farmers stealing her work, and that I need to protect my work from other farmers. She describes the growing and selection of successful, unusual varieties of garlic (and her tomatoes) as intellectual property and as such should be treated with zipped lips (don't name your strains, varieties, no signs with names in the field, don't invite farmers to your field, and whatever you do, don't blog about it!) She then goes so far as to say that she would sell her intellectual property for one hundred thousand dollars after a neighboring farmer saw her tomatoes and asked to buy 10,000 seeds (she does seed). As a capstone she says not to be paranoid. Right.

I'm wondering at this point if this is how a bully makes friends.

Afterward, I'm outside cleaning my bulbs and the farmer returns (farmers seems to come and go a lot). She asks me what my garlic is going for, gives me a lecture on making money on my crop that includes my labor and driving time (impossible). She sees me culling bulbs with soft cloves and insists that I sell them as seconds (this I can agree with). Then she offers to buy "10 pounds of my favorite garlic." My first instinct is, wow that's great. She says it's hard to get good garlic around here (I find that hard to believe) and she wants garlic that will last through the winter. She asks how many bulbs in a pound, I hold up some of the smaller ones, and she says no, bigger ones. Sensitive to what she said earlier, I ask what she's going to do with them. Friends, gifts, CSA members (her farm).

So, the farmer wants 10 pounds of my favorite (best), large-sized (seed) garlic. She'll pay $18 a pound for it. Did she succeed in making me paranoid? I imagine her laughing, saying thems the breaks kid.





6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Should I take her at her word? If I do, then I will, but I haven't yet.

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  2. No. She sounds like a crazy liar. Have nothing more to do with her.

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  3. run away when possible; when you can't, don't engage. no boundaries, and she probably would have no compunction about badmouthing you for some reason (if she is not already). don't give her anything to work with. unsolicited advice, i know, from a stranger but you have enough challenges already.

    sheesh, i hate unsolicited advice.

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  4. Well, it's unanimous then. I think I am going to move all the garlic to the studio anyhow -it is much drier in there.

    ReplyDelete