The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of jobs in the city at Saipua. These pictures are all from a wedding last Saturday. We had what we call 'carte blanche' on this wedding; which is to say we could choose any color palette, any flowers....
The beauty of this way of working is that we can select exactly the best looking things at the market, without having to adhere to a color story. This January has been dismal at the NYC wholesale market. Maybe this happens every year and I just forget but this January seems especially brutal with half empty shelves and ho hum imports. The terrible draught in California also lessens some of the weedy/wild material we can get.
But citrus abounds miraculously and made a nice base to work up from. Those $8.50 a stem ranunculus also help, although I'm afraid to use them. When I see one of the girls reaching for one my chest tightens and my neck shrinks into my shoulders. Perspiration forms on my forehead and I start to shake and turn purple. They quickly learn to avoid all ranunculus. Good girls, they are.
I feel lucky to be so busy this month, but our work strangely dries up next month and we don't have any work till May. Which might be a good thing as we can focus on the farm and figure out what the hell and how the hell to grow it this season. Eric keeps reminding me we have our tractor payments starting in April. With bravado I say "I'm going to sell so many flowers we'll pay off the tractor in half the time!"
I'm back at the farm now for a few weeks. I'm sitting at my desk, looking out at the homestead yard, this frozen tundra. Instead of doing my chores this morning I came up to the computer with coffee to write this, and I think Eric took the hint and is doing all the chores without me. Bless him!! The weather is brutal here, nights at -10 below 0 F and days only around 10 degrees F. Chickens have a bit of frostbite on their combs. I look at my iris and peony beds and wonder how they are fairing.
I don't talk about this much, but I worry a lot for our changing climate, and think a lot about what I can do about it. How can I use Saipua and the farm to influence how people think about seasons or the natural world...to have more respect for it and change something about their lives to help it. I really don't know the answer to this yet...
Personal responsibility is an interesting conundrum. Want to hear a weird secret? It's hard for me to tell you this story, but I think it makes an interesting point about how we sometimes rationalize our personal responsibility to the planet...
At the farm, all we do is compost and reuse, reduce etc. I feel like I live in a compost bucket sometimes. When I go to the city I bring a bucket with me for my vegetable scraps. Then I haul it back up the farm, along with all our cardboard (used for sheet mulching) and flower waste from Saipua. After a week of hustling for a job, sometimes the last thing I want to do is be the garbage truck, but it seems silly to take an empty truck back when I can stuff branches and flower waste in the back for composting. At some point I let myself off the hook for my city kitchen scraps. And I started putting vegetable scraps RIGHT IN THE GARBAGE. And it felt so fucking liberating.
Subconciously I thought "am I not doing enough already? give me a break on the fly infested compost in my apartment!" But this is a problem...my laziness and unwillingness to do the right thing because it's hard. Or because I think my other actions are offsetting my grapefruit peels that are rotting in a landfill right now creating methane gas instead of garden compost. I have sinned.
I think we have to do more because there are those of us who can. I am one of those people who can do a lot more and so it is my responsibility to do so. And I want to inspire other people to do more in whatever way they can. So I promise you I will collect my food scraps again when I'm in the city.
But my mission at Saipua has always been to make the most beautiful things we possibly can. And if that means using an exquisite flower imported from half way around the globe, so be it. We're in the business of beauty, we're selling our flowers based on our artistry, not on our commitment to local product (though of course we are hugely invested in local flowers). I will buy imported flowers as long as they are the best of what's available in January. And in spring summer and fall I'll buy almost exclusively local. It's not a dogma, it's just that they are the best, and buying them gives me the most pleasure -- through the relationships I have with farmers.
I'm rambling a bit, as I tend to. But writing these things out (and hearing your reactions) helps me sort through my feelings and thoughts. I am still figuring this stuff out. How to be better, how to make a better business, and how to make a difference in the face of this huge problem that is bearing down on all of us.