Dana begins to look at the underside of the leaves for larvae. I learned the beetles lay eggs about the same color as they are, so they’re fairly easy to spot. As he does a quick check, Dana explains that the farm crew will soon have to look under every eggplant leaf to look for potato beetle larvae - by hand. They did this twice last season to ensure the beetle didn’t consume the crop.
“By hand?!” I exclaim. I imagine ten men and women on hands and knees, meticulously looking over the underbelly of green leaves. The scope and detail of farming organically is more fully formed in my mind with this specific act. There are few non-harmful chemicals available that will simply get rid of the plant’s pest, and so, human intervention is a must. It is a reminder that growing food with organic methods is full of unpredictability, but also includes passion for good stewardship and practices.
Dana crushes the beetle in his hand, and I react with a mixture of fascination and disgust. But the end result is a healthy eggplant, and healthy people.