Field Notes from Old Friends Farm

Farmer in resiPANTS

By Casey Steinberg, Photos courtesy of Old Friends Farm

Over the past two years, we’ve used our Field Notes column to bring you stories from farmers across the Valley. We loved getting a peek into a different farm each season, but thought it would be nice to try something different and invite a single farmer to share a whole year’s worth of insights. In his second column of the year, Casey Steinberg continues to share his perspective with us all.

It’s easy to slip into the cliché of writing about how fall is the time we start turning inward, thinking about sweaters, the crispness of the air, the waning light, and the impending immense task of extracting the bounty out of the Valley’s farms. But that tends to get predictable and boring. I should talk-up our imminent, magical crop of ginger and turmeric and the gorgeous triple-washed and spun-dry salads we produce weekly. Instead, I want to talk about blue jeans.

Yep, blue jeans, or rather brown, as the filthy case may be. According to a segment of “fashion” news I heard recently, it appears that “dirty” pants are in style. You can now buy the appearance of having worked all day on the farm without having lifted a finger (save for the one it took to click “add to cart”). No joke—these faux-dirty pants go for over $400. Maybe fake dirt is really hard to source? I won’t go into all the potential character judging and social commentary these pants inspire. The attraction is likely rooted in our culture’s innate desire to be connected to the earth in this new world of concrete.

The dirt (read: soil) and wear and tear on our pants at Old Friends Farm is genuine. We feel proud to offer up some real mud-caked-stiff competition to those clean-fingernailed posers. With that, I introduce the limited edition Old Friends Farm Real Dirty Pants, and with them a window into farm life! Each of these unique pairs comes adorned with real soil, mud, grease, and rips! (We can assure you that even though some of our clothes get quite dirty, our produce is immaculately clean by the time it gets to market!)

We’ll start with the old style double knee jeans. They are rare, as the new cuts are baggier with tiny pockets (not large enough for the standard equipment: wallet, mini-wrench, various nuts and bolts, collection of pens and markers, mini tape measurer, granola bar, drip irrigation couplers, write-in-the-rain notepad, handkerchief, cotter pin, and the special rock my daughter insisted I carry with me on any given day). They don’t make these anymore, and when they finally give up the ghost, I will be devastated.

Then there’s the artfully ripped jeans. The back left pocket of these well-loved pants tore when they got caught on a tractor implement. The hammer loop (which is actually completely useless) is tattered because it catches on everything, including the knobs of my cabinets at home—very annoying. Not visible are the mended front pockets, which developed holes due to carrying around loose hardware and sharp giblets. Without these extra stitches, your change winds up in your boots!

Don’t forget the “give and take” jeans. The first area to “give” is always just above the double knee due to repeatedly carrying harvest crates, tools, and other whatnot and the sharp corners on our greenhouse tables that catch our pants at that exact height. Randomly spaced dark spots are a combination of mud, grease, used vegetable oil (used to fuel our delivery truck), and resin from harvesting sunflowers. Some of the newer spots are from sneaking bits of leftover flourless chocolate birthday cake from the crew fridge and wiping the sticky evidence on my pants.

Finally, we have the real dirty Real Dirty Pants. The soggy knees variety originated from a morning of transplanting fall stock—a beautiful, fragrant flower. (The flowers smell infinitely better than the pants.) And the holes-in-the-knees style is created by crawling miles of veggie beds in order to hand weed them.

If, as the poet Kahlil Gibran suggests, “work is love made visible,” then Real Dirty Pants are work made visible, and we love our work!