Many people romanticize about life as a farmer, imagining the bliss of living in sync with nature, spending time close to the earth, and marveling at all the little miracles in garden. Well, let me tell you, farmers are like everyone else and today was a day that I thought about getting another job. This job that I loved had turned into a nightmare. By the time noon came around, I was thinking about all sorts of career opportunities I could pursue. Even a desk job doing data entry sounded good to this farmer.

So what would drive me to such crazy thoughts? The heat? The dry weather? No, it was the buggers pictured here. Tomato Hornworms.

Tomato hornworms invade Westford!

Absolutely disgusting. They devour entire tomato plants, including the green tomatoes, leaving bare twigs where there were plants. Over the past week I’ve found 12. Today I found 52. First you see evidence they have infested a plant – bare stems and poop the size of raisins. Then you start hunting for the hornworm. They blend in with the plant, so inevitably, I find it an inch from my hand. It startles me and makes my stomach churn every time. Did I already say disgusting?

I’m sure there are chemicals that could be sprayed, but now that the tomato plants have set fruit, I’m reluctant to spray anything, so we do the most organic method of control which requires inspecting each and every plant and picking them off. I don’t want to touch them, even with gloves, so I clip the branch and drop the branch and worm into a bag to put in the trash.

After a morning of picking hornworms, I was ready to get another job. But on the drive home I came back to my senses. I started thinking about all of the reasons I love my job – being close to nature, working outside, marveling at the little miracles of life, and most especially the happy faces of my customers as they taste delicious produce – and decided I’ll keep growing.

Get to know Elizabeth Almeida (12 Posts)

Elizabeth Almeida is founder, head farmer, chief weeder, and top taster at organic vegetable farm Fat Moon in Westford. She also plans healthy living events for the farm through the Center for Healthy Living and Learning. Foodie magazines will give you the scoop on the tastiest and trendiest foods to eat, but Elizabeth will give you the dirt on food - how it is grown, what is good to eat, and maybe some insights into the giant food system that gets us whatever we want to eat in every season. Her passion and her businesses help folks untangle their way to health!


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