Every time I’m down on the farm I walk away with a life lesson. In true form, this time was no different. We arrived a few weeks ago and spring was just beginning to share its warmth. We went for a walk in the orchards to take in the new life that was blooming on each branch, and we had the honor of having Uncle Al along for the afternoon.
As any good farmer would do, he shared his technique and thoughtfulness about each detail of the orchard. Why they lined the tree up the way they do, the space between each, the branches and the grass that grows down the middle. It all brought such appreciation for the farmer and his future crop. More than I could ever have imagined goes into these peaches.
As we walked we came upon one of Al’s teams pruning trees as they do throughout the winter and spring. Being a landscaper’s daughter, I was so intrigued. Uncle Al walked us through the process of shaping a tree and forcing the branches to grow in certain directions. There were a few things that caught my eye as he walked us through the ABCs of pruning.
First, it was like watching an artist create his masterpiece. Uncle Al walked around the tree examining the main branches and where he wanted them to grow. As he did this he shared how he was making these decisions based on the peach and how is would grow properly with maximum exposure to sunlight come summertime. He taught us about creating three or four main branches, which make a bowl like shape to allow sunlight to hit the whole tree and how he wanted to leave around 100 small branches to mature and grow peaches. Looking down the line of the orchard, it was quite impressive to see how similar each tree looked to the next as it was pruned. This was art sculpting at its best.
The other thing that caught my eye (and has stuck with me in the days that have followed), was the amount of branches that they cut off. This pruning business is no joke. These peach trees had been working all winter growing bigger, stronger and fuller. They were beautiful and now Uncle Al was just cutting off all these big gorgeous branches that could have had peaches on them...what was he thinking? There was a painful feeling watching this tree be cut back and restrained. As he cut and cut away at each tree and its branches he reminded us that this was very necessary. The trees needed fewer branches so that it could focus all its energy on the few that remained. That way, each peach would have all the nutrition it needed to grow big and juicy.
This idea of less being more happens a lot on the farm. In the winter and early spring they prune the branches to create stronger branches for the peach. In the spring when the peaches are small but growing they thin the peaches. During this process they remove over half the peaches growing on the trees so the few that remain can have all the energy of their branch. In the summer they pick when the peach is ready and no time sooner.
Less is more on the farm. Uncle Al is willing to sacrifice now for a better tomorrow. I love the foresight and intentionality they put into ever step of this process. Stephen and I are continually applying this principle to our own lives. Less is more on the farm, and we are continually learning that less is more in our every day lives. More on that at a later date :).
until next time,