S, Four, and I went to a farm this weekend. Two farms, actually. The day was nippy and fresh and bright. Exactly as a day at a farm (two farms, actually) should be. We trundled into a bus with a few dozen other students and drove for an hour or so. When we reached farm we were treated to a pancake, granola, and fresh-of-the branch caramelized apple breakfast. It was delicious.
The first farmer spoke about the environmental, economic, and political facts which dictate how she runs her farm. We learnt about local vs. organic agriculture, the perils of drought, frost, and flood, and the nuances of labor and immigration. Then they set us loose to each pick a little sugar pumpkin to take home.
The next farm we visited was a run by the original owner's great-great-grandson. He took us into a giant refrigerated room, heady with nitric oxide and the scent of fresh apples. It stored thousands of bushels of fruit, waiting to be shipped to destinations from Connecticut to Israel. At apple-season's height, the farm-hands harvest apples ten hours a day seven day a week, and the farmer's machines wash, wax, and label up to ten thousand apples daily.
One of the orchards had been caught by frost. The surviving fruits had gobbled up so much extra energy and nutrients that they were "too big to sell". The farmer let us pick a few before they dropped from their branches to rot amongst the long grass below. We ate them in the rows of the orchard; they were crisp and sweet and floral. Exactly as an apple should be.