Pandemic, Fire, Smoke and Perseverance
It’s been twelve weeks since I launched my first Farm to Fork in a Box. The time has gone by quickly and slowly, all at the same time. I sense that is a common feeling many people have had lately. We are in our sixth month of the pandemic, or so. Some days I feel like I blinked and the time went so quickly, and here we are...school has started (remotely for our daughter), pumpkin spice is everywhere, and Halloween candy is in the stores already. Why, is anyone’s guess. I seriously doubt there will be any trick or treating in our region this year. It’s not a huge deal as our kid has never liked trick or treating, and that suits me just fine. Although I do wish she would get into dressing up for the fun of it. We lived for that as kids.
Then there are other days where I can’t think straight. I sleep late (because we stay up late bingeing shows I never could watch when I was working full time.) I forget what I am doing halfway through doing it, or I jump from task to task, never completing any of them. Or I have zero appetite for any of my projects. I can only read short articles. I’ve restarted the book on my bedside table dozens of times. Literally the same first two paragraphs, I’ve read over and over, never getting past page two. I have mother guilt that we really didn’t do a whole lot these last six months. We didn’t go on any epic adventures that were creatively safe to do. We haven't learned a new language. In fact, we intentionally unschooled after the debacle of Spring distant learning. Unschooling means many things, and when I use it I mean we let our daughter do nothing, or anything, pretty much. No strict math or reading schedules, no sleep schedule, no schedule of any kind. She has chores and a dog and a cat to take care of and four baby chicks, and now 2 Indian Runner ducks to take care of. Some days she would spend a lot of time on her iPad and some days she would get out her drawing materials and draw, or occasionally make a batch of cookies. She was bored.
I’ve been anything but bored. Creating the box business has been way more time consuming than I could have imagined, and I do tend to throw myself into things. In twelve short, or long weeks (depending on my mood) I’ve met dozens of interesting and kind people all muddling their way through things, just as I am. Discovering yummy products is so fun and I get super excited about putting the boxes together so that they are a good mix of flavors and textures. I try to pick interesting products that you want but may not buy for yourself. I want to challenge those that may be afraid to try a new product and I want to please my die hard foodies that have tasted it all. I strive to provide variety each month for my quarterly and annual subscribers and keep them delighted. It’s a lot of work but I love it.
This month has been challenging in a different way. California is burning, and burning..and burning. Many of my partners have been affected by the fires, either by evacuation or smoke. The smoke does a number on your mental state, not just your lungs. It’s been stressful. But they all are so incredibly resilient. Each farmer and maker has a story to tell, a history that is unique to them. I love learning their stories, and telling those stories. We usually create a video for each partner and product, but this month we really haven't been able to do as many videos as we would like. This week it wasn’t just the smoke but the winds, picking up and tossing anything not nailed down. I guess what I am trying to express is that these products that you get in our box each month are not just another jar of olive oil or jam. They are the vision and dreams and hard work of people, family owned businesses, in some cases generations old, in some cases very new.
There is the family that moved to Winters to grow fruit and nuts in the 1970’s, because San Jose was getting too built up and the orchards were disappearing. Now that same thing is happening in Winters. There is the passing of the baton from father to son to hand off responsibility for making the BBQ sauce that’s a family recipe dating back four generations. Or the husband and wife team that do all the farming themselves and hand-pick every olive off their trees. And the wife of a 6th generation pear farmer who for the first time in their family decided to make something out of what they grow and traveled the world to learn how to do it. I could go on. As I said, every product has a story. I wish I could tell them all. My wish is that when you get your box of goodies and you open it up you experience a connection to these products and the food and know that there is passion and sometimes hardship in bringing them to life. Growing things and making things is hard work, just as owning a business is. But I have yet to meet any farmer or maker that would have it any other way. Enjoy!