This Week in Jewish Farming: Season of abundance


Apparently, I jumped the gun.

Last week, I was waxing poetic about how safe and sound I feel with the winter squash tucked away in the greenhouse. That was then the greenhouse looked like this:


Now, it looks like this:


Tis the season of abundance. The fall crops are in – in our case thousands of pounds of winter squash, hundreds of pounds of potatoes and a modest haul of onions. The fading summer crops briefly overlap with fall ones, producing a goldmine of culinary possibility. Most Americans don’t regard the availability of butternut squash and juicy tomatoes at the same time as much of an achievement. But for the seasonal eater, this is really a special moment.

Like all good things, this one won’t last. Before the month is out, the last of those summer crops will be spent and we’ll be in full-on fall mode, with cold hardy plants and storage crops all that we have to draw on. Of course, this fills me with all kinds of anxiety, a condition exacerbated last week when I went to water in some seeds only to find the well had run dry.

I’m told this has been an unusually dry summer in Connecticut. I wouldn’t know, because before this season I never paid much attention to such things. But I do know our beds are so parched right now it’s impossible even to till them without watering them first – let alone seed radish or arugula that need to be kept consistently wet for days until germination. Problem is, there just isn’t any water.

Our well is shallow, just 17 feet deep, and as predicted by the well specialist I consulted in the spring, it has run out. So we’re left with the house well — a much larger reservoir but one we are allowed to use only about an hour a day. We now have hoses run across 400 feet of pasture and use a spray nozzle to water. It’s not a very sophisticated operation, and it hardly feels abundant, but right now it’s all that stands between me and multiple crop failures.

Veteran JTA journalist Ben Harris is chronicling his new life as a Connecticut farmer. Read more of his weekly dispatches here.


From the annals of Jewish farming: In 1932, two leaders of the Jewish farming collectives in Ukraine were threatened with expulsion from the Communist Party because the collectives had fallen short of government crop quotas.

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