21st Century Farming

It all started with a small home operation. All things in one’s life start small. That’s what it always seemed to me anyway. It had been a small plot of land where I learned how to make things grow. I got my hands in the soil, got dirty and could smell the earth. I look back on those times fondly. Of course I always forget the back breaking work to excavate the ground, clearing stones with a sieve and ensuring the acidity levels were correct. Add on top of that the worry and stress of getting the seeds to germinate, propagate and grow.

Now I look out on the farm. Well, more it’s eight opaque grow houses each separated from one another. Giant twenty by seventy metre white plastic tunnels filled with tables and tables of plants. Each tunnel had plants at different stages of growth, so we are always either planting, growing or harvesting. In turn each tunnel gets a rest for a few months.

We even have staff. Five of them. I never thought that I would own a place like this and turn a profit. It’s amazing. The hardest part was getting the organic standard. I left a lot of that paperwork for Mac. He had the knack for it I never did. He said to me when it was just one greenhouse, “Mari, you can make anything grow. You can make anything flourish. Me it just rots in my hands, and I can’t understand it”

It was his way of saying, maybe just asking to let him take over the office and I took over the farm. Not to say he didn’t help out when needed, and not to say I wouldn’t check the accounts. Its just we have our strengths in different places.

Our biggest challenge came in the second year. We used a large greenhouse at first. It was great, it held the heat overnight, allowed for excellent light and ventilation. It was perfect. Mac had helped to rig up a wonderful irrigation system and the plants grew. They grew like gangbusters. I loved it. Out first harvest were excellent and the pharma company that we sold them to were delighted with our output.

The problems began when some of the locals noticed what we were growing. Word got round down the pub.

Some of the local teenagers came round asking us to sell to them. We told them where to shove it. Then we noticed the break-ins, shattered glass all over the place and plants torn out of their bed. More word got around. Of course, it bloody well does. We were selling since so many of the local kids starting to get excellent quality stuff and word started to spread. The police came around. We had reported the damage, the theft and everything else. They acted like it was our fault. We added a security system.

Then the protests outside started. Mac and I were at our wits end. The stress and strain if it all. Yes of course we kept a little bit of the crop but dealing with paperwork and authorities, well it was better to have a clear head. That and we were raided multiple times. So, we thought it better to not keep anything in the house.

Finally, it got too much. We needed to move. The locals saw it as a victory but that I my opinion shows how narrowminded they could be. We had been buying things locally for a while, we had been planning on expanding the operation maybe even diversifying. All of that went up when the greenhouses did.

We had been working late that evening. It was summer, a number of the plants had flowered and we were working on retrieving the seeds for the next crop. Finally, around midnight we went indoors. The seeds were left sorted and organised on the kitchen table and we went to bed.

I thought I had smelled something when we left for the house, then thought I had been imagining things.

It was around an hour later when we were woken by the light. The greenhouse was aflame. Our outbuildings where we kept the equipment, already a shell of metal and charred wood. Mac and I tried to use our hoses to fight the flames, but they has been cut along with the power to the security system.  By the time the Fire Brigade made it out it was already too late. Everything was gone.

The must have been waiting there all evening waiting for us to go to bed. The smell had been petrol and oil.

The insurance company and our clients were sympathetic. We would rebuild, just not here.

We moved further north. The spaces were cheaper so we could build easier. We planted our seeds that had been saved and started again. This time we learned. This time we made sure that things were kept away from prying eyes. That we engaged locally with people but never told them what we grew. They were just happy with having a new customer in any case. Over the years we have expanded. People know what we grow now and why we grow it. Yes, we’ve had the odd idiot pop up to the farm and we still tell them where to shove it. We also make sure others know what we’ve said as well. The local pub is a great place for that along with the small shop.

Our first staff member, Steven, he tried to make a little on the side. He didn’t last long. We made sure he was done for theft and dealing. We had to swear in court, produce all of our documentation again and again but the message was clear. We don’t do this type of nonsense. Over the years we’ve had a couple who have tried the same kind of thing. They don’t last long either. Everyone is happy, locally and our business side.

Tomorrow we will harvest tunnel four. The crop will be used to make medications and then the left overs will be either turned into fabric or fertiliser. We will then let the tunnel rest and the soil will be topped up with eggs and manure so the nutrients will feed the next crop in a few months. Tunnel five will be flowering soon and we will save the seeds just like we did that faithful night. It always make me pang for our first farm when we do that, but in this place I am happier.

Authors Note: This story was number 50 of my writing weekly project. The prompt was Cannabis Farm.

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