By Lauren Kaplan, Farm Crew Leader
It’s winter, and the days are short. As I write this in the first week of January, we currently have 9 hours and 17 minutes of daylight.
As farmers, we often refer to this time of year -- when daylight falls below 10 hours per day -- as the Persephone period. During this period, regardless of the temperature, plant growth slows to a near-halt. The greens that we’ve been harvesting from for our Winter CSA put on most of their growth in October and November. (This is why the process for winter greens actually began on a 70-degree day in September!) These days, the plants are mostly hanging out, waiting for that critical increase in daylight hours to signal renewed growth.
Those of you who leave your office at 5pm to darkened skies are probably acutely aware of the brevity of daylight hours. But don’t despair: there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! Though it may seem (especially now that the holidays are over) that the winter stretches out, endless, ahead of us… the truth is that with the Winter Solstice behind us, the days are already growing longer.
For now, the farm crew -- taking a cue from the plants -- have also slowed down. We are taking advantage of more flexible time in the winter to rest and rejuvenate. While Leon is snuggling his new baby daughter, LK and German are both reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (which for German is the first of fifty books he plans to read in 2019); Chris has been doing lots of hiking with his curious and adventurous pup; and Laura is making jams from squirreled-away summer fruits and painting vegetable portraits (like this beautiful arrangement she made for Lauren’s going-away card!).
Speaking of Lauren McDonald, our dear friend is settling into her new home in Belfast, ME with her partner Julia and their rambunctious cat Turtle Bean. She’s preparing for lots of fiddle gigs, savoring every bite of her dwindling supply of purple carrots, and sending warm wishes to all of us (and you!) here while making new farming connections in Maine.
Just like these candy-sweet overwintered turnips that amazingly not only survived the winter cold, but thrived -- so are we not only enduring these dark days, but enjoying them for all that they are. We hope your New Year is off to a healthy and happy start, and that you too are taking advantage of these Persephone period to snuggle up on the couch with a good book, enjoy a steaming mug of hot chocolate or tea, and generally adopt a Scandanavian winter mindset towards these short but precious days.