The Second Season Farmer
Full circle farming!

Perhaps you noticed my emails, newsletters and videos are from "The Second Season Farmer". Or you saw this "tag line" below my signature.

What's it all about?

Well, like most inspirations and ideas that come to a farmer, this self-description came to me while I was on the tractor?

But why "The Second Season Farmer"?

Farming met up with me after a long career in engineering, tech, and project management. Like summer is different from winter, and spring is different from fall, farming feels like a different season for me, using the same skill sets I learned in a first season. In many regards, it's a second season working in the same landscape.

No matter what your age, I'm sure you can look back on your life and see events that shaped you. Summer at the grandparents, high school, college, relationships, marriage, parenthood, separations, locations, careers and jobs - all of these add layers to who we are. But at our core, there's something that hopefully carries us though life with purpose.

For me, that purpose centers around a love for soil. I can hear those who know me chuckle, and a few of you are probably rolling your eyes, but it's true.

My happiest memories from early childhood to yesterday, center around digging in soil. For whatever reason, and from a young age, I have felt an innate appreciation for what soil gives us. Growing up in Texas, both sets of grandparents were avid gardeners. Both Grandmothers would set aside a spoon and tin can for me to use to dig in the soil when I came to visit. Grandmama Roberts sternly warned me not to dig up her pansies and Grandmama Crane sent me far from her daylily collection to transplant foraged sticks and interesting plants I had dug up from the back field. At home, Mom had a small tomato bed where I was allowed to dig - until I picked a tomato for a snack long before it was ripe. After that, it was weed duty for me, until I got my own tomato patch at age 18, located in the back of an apartment house.

From childhood, my focus was always to buy my own patch of soil, where I could dig and plant what, and where I wanted. So why didn't I study and work in horticulture, agriculture, biology, etc. from the start? It's a long story for another time, but here I am, at Windcrest Farm since 1978, with skills and experiences brought from another season and other places to make this farm what it is and becoming.

I have seen many articles talking about farming as a "second", or "encore career". In literal terms, farming is not my second career. I have had several careers between college and farming. But in my heart and mind, the total of the work I did before farming feels like a first season rather than a career, which allowed me to do now, what was and is at my core.

You could say I have come "full circle", but it really was more twisting than that - more like "full roller coaster". Hence, I am the "Second Season Farmer". After 18 years of commercial market farming experience, the "Second Season" concept has multiple meanings for me.

The second season growing on a new bed or in a new field produces a better crop than the first season the plot was planted. To plant cover crops that nourish and protect the soil in a field that has been in production all summer is the second season for that field. Re-purposing items as farm tools is a second season for those items. The leaves we use for mulch in the row aisles are in their second season of purpose. While some farms have an "off-season" when either the weather or the crop means the farmer is not actively tending or harvesting, at Windcrest Farm we always have a second season, with a different crop on every field and in every grow house bed, all year round.

Mary Roberts
The Second Season Farmer