Published May 2, 2011

Much changes, much stays the same

By Teresa Opheim

A vision of the future from Lonna Nachtigal, Onion Creek Farm

2030, April 15, Wednesday

I am (still) 57 years old.

I am driving to market. Since the growing season in central Iowa has changed so much in the past decades, we can have spring vegetables ready to sell almost two months earlier than at the turn of the century. Much has changed over on Onion Creek Farm. Much has stayed the same.

In 2010 we used our Toyota pickup truck or our Gem electric truck for trips to town. Now I use a new (efficient) electric pickup truck (usually). But today the weather is beautiful, and I’m driving my donkey Jenny Girl and a cart (crafted by my neighbor Chris) to the Farmer’s Market . . .

Better urban planning and population densities now mean that the market I go to is only 1½ miles away. Homes surround our farm. (There are 15 local food/craft/skill markets three times a week, scattered throughout the city of Ames.) The vendors and customers are always glad to see each other. Today I’m selling: spring greens, onions, herbs, early carrots and potatoes, early greenhouse tomatoes, eggs, and some canned goods. Also I’m delivering two watercolor portraits (a family group and a portrait of my friend Sue, who has always been a big hero here on the farm.)

We had a rain shower earlier this morning. But now, at dawn the weather is clearing. 70 degrees already with a light breeze. The red wing blackbirds have made a come-back since the big bird die-offs of years past. The red wing’s call in the cat tailed ditches beside the road remind me of my childhood. . . . .

I pass six working farms on my way into market. Some are tucked into the “urban landscape” as it was once called. Now we just call it Mother Earth. Beth and Tim have a fine orchard up and running on 2 acres next to the railroad tracks. They keep bees and raise poultry, too. George grows potatoes; I’m glad; I trade with him. We meet under the six old pine trees that stand. . . despite the force of wind storms. We always have plenty of firewood.

Always lots of work to do. Lots of time to learn and grow. Wake up, learn, love, laugh, enjoy life.

Mary Swander, Iowa’s Poet Laureate and a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa, asked participants at the 2011 PFI annual conference to envision their farms and gardens 20 years from now. This is one of those musings.