Meeting the Subject
Hopefully by now you have gone over and checked out the Images for the first visual story I have posted. If not the it is also below. I wanted to give you some background though and let you know the story behind the story.
In my post about Los Alamos and what to do while there I mentioned Casa Dumetz winery. I also said Friday night was the best time to visit if you need something to do because they regularly have a guest speaker. We were at one of these one night and met Able Basch. Abel is a young farmer in the area and has a great and unique story that I wanted to try and capture in images.
Abel went to Culinary school before he ever thought about being a farmer. It was during his time in school though that he discovered that he had a love of growing his own ingredients. One time during a visit from his parents though they noticed that he was developing a love for it and his father offered him an opportunity. He took that opportunity, and has no regrets about it.
The opportunity was that he would go to israel and learn about farming there. Which is important to the way he farms specifically. The deal being when he got back they would buy him land to grow what he wanted. It was freedom of choice in how to do the entire thing. It was here where I became hooked on what he was doing and how he was doing it. After the event ended I approached him about doing a photo story on him and he was game.
A Day on the Farm
So I set out to meet Abel on his farm one Thursday morning. I had the expectation that I would be there a few hours and snap some shots and see what I could come up with. It was important I got there early though and made sure I could find it and get some establishing shots of the area. This was fine though as I knew he was running late as he had already been making some last deliveries of the previous days crops.
The farm is not big at all only 3 acres. Which is about like the yards of 4 houses in a normal American neighborhood. There are other farms down the road and a horse ranch to the other side of the farm. You would think that it would be too much for one person to do alone. It’s just the way he likes to do the farming though. Much of that comes from what he learned while doing farming in Israel. The methods he use are not new and they aren’t anything fancy. Although what he is growling and how he treats it are making local area chefs go nuts.
I heard a few stories from him while were working about things he learned not farming in the U.S., and they started to make sense with his methods. He doesn’t have the income yet to pay to be certified organic. Yet at the same time all the things he does are in line or better than what he would need to be certified. Just because it doesn’t say organic doesn’t always mean it’s not organic.
He started simple with a plastic bin and and mission. Pick some sprouts for a mid day delivery. He does all of this on his own remember. All of the crops are planted tended and harvested by one person. So he has learned to rotate in the proper order. He is also trying to get the things he knows he get to grow and consistently have product for the chefs he works with.
So I’m watching him and shooting. Occasionally asking questions about the brussel sprouts he is picking. We have some good laughs and conversation. He shows me about how this one plant is infested with spider mites. He can see them, and I can’t at first. Abel pulls out his lighter though and starts to use it to burn them off the plant.
You see as he explains, and shows me in just a few minutes. In a row he has two plants that are 4 feet apart from each other that have the mites trying to move in. However, all the rest are free of any signs. Because he understands how they operate. He knows that they will start with a couple and get established then move to another plant. By doing the work and being in them every other day he knows exactly what is going on how things are happening in the field. He knows where he placed a few traps for gophers and that the birds are going to be a problem for his new beans which are gust starting to sprout.
This is what he learned not from any place here but from his experience doing things on his own and somewhere completely different. He learned that he likes doing the work himself and doing to a high standard he isn’t even sure he can make all the time. In the struggle to do so though he is creating products that taste amazing and have an appeal to them. He can have and maintain something unique by only dealing in heirloom variety seeds.
The freedom the choices and everything else comes from his love of the end product. I see in him myself in many ways. It’s not about how you get to the end always many times the journey of how you get there is more important. Anyone could grab a plot of land grow huge vegetables and sell them from a lot of money to pocket and call it a day. I don’t see that being a path for Abel though. I thought I’d be there for a few hours that day. Instead I spent the entire day with him talking about all kinds of things. Sharing the sights, sounds, and smells of the fertile land. It made the day feel enjoyable.
I didn’t know when I drove away if I had a photo story or not. I knew that I had spent a day with an incredibly talented person. That cared just as much about the plants and what happened to them as he did about anything else going on in his life. In the end I found my story in the images I took. I only hope they do justice in showing the care and love of a young farmer and his crops. Let me know how you think I did in the comments below.