Isn't it ironic?
We all know that Transition is about creating resilience. And producing more local food is a pretty good place to start, everybody needs to eat, so when a few years ago the T conference was held in spring, which is a mad, manic time for farmers and market gardeners alike, I commented to the T Network that it might be better to hold the conference at a different time of the year, so that the people with dirt under their fingernails could come too.
And they agreed, so the date now appears to have been duly shifted to...harvest time, second busiest time of the year for food producers! I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose. I'm sure they had a good reason for choosing the date they did, but September is the month for autumn sowing and planting, harvesting and preserving.
The morning of the day I left for the Big Smoke, I found myself surrounded by onions waiting to be strung, tomatoes needing to be bottled, lettuce and spinach seed wanting to be sown and trays full of oriental brassica seedlings to be planted out in the beds that have just been cleared of their summer crops. There's no end to the produce right now that needs to be harvested, dried, bottled, chutneyed and jammed and the trays and buckets are queueing up in our kitchen. The sow, plant, mulch rhythm of the day merges into the slice, chop, boil tune of the evening.
The lack of summer sun and warmth has severely delayed the ripening of those fruits that did managed to set; the vast majority of my San Marzano tomatoes are still a vibrant green colour, the tomatillos on strangely tall, stretched plants have now reached the size of peas and I can already tell that many of the pumpkins just won't make it. The early arrival of blight this year means the bagged up potatoes need to be checked every couple of weeks or so for rotting tubers that could set the rest off and the onions have dried so slowly that molds are rife and we need to keep a close eye on them, so they don't go to slime in storage.
It's been a funny year all round, stretching both our horticultural skills and dogged determination in order to coax something of a harvest out of this “summer”. If I had a tenner for each time someone told me these last few months that they had given up on their garden, I'd have enough money to replace the torn skin on one of our poly tunnels. So you can imagine it's hard to leave in the middle of preserving the little that did grow and dash off to go and talk about “Building Resilience in Extraordinary Times. Cynical, moi? Possibly, but mostly I'm just aware of the many ironies in life. Like deciding to catch a later train so I could spend the morning in the poly tunnel, only then to miss that train, which left bang on time and to take the next one, which left 15mins late. Or spotting that little apple tree, absolutely laden with fruit between the train tracks and the fence where nobody could get to pick them while entire orchards stand empty. Or just never getting the date for a conference right. Yep, the road to resilience; paved with irony and sod's law, all the way...!