I think it was Alfred, Lord Tennyson who penned the line, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of weeding.”
OK, so the original poem says “love” instead of weeding, but an Idaho farm is hoping the two words are interchangeable.
Have you heard of “speed dating”? It’s an organized event of singles, who zip through three- to eight-minute mini-dates, typically sitting across a small table from a member of the opposite sex, switching partners when a bell rings, in the hopes of finding a soul mate in 20 questions or less.
Well, now there’s a new twist on it.
A couple weeks ago, I heard a news story on National Public Radio about a farm in Idaho that offered a “weed dating” event. Instead of grilling prospective dates across a table, you do it while kneeling side-by-side out in the garden or field pulling weeds. Yep, a weeding date.
(Hey, even I can’t make this stuff up!)
An Associated Press article by Jessie Bonner explains that Earthly Delights Farm owner Casey O’Leary first heard of the idea from a farm in Vermont. She organized her first event last year for about 20 people (mostly friends and interns). This year’s weed dating event drew 40 men and women, ranging in ages from 20s to 50s.
She assigned the women to specific rows, and gave them a quick tutorial on how to identify weeds, and not pull the lettuce, eggplant, zucchini or tomato plants. Then, the men rotated from row to row every three minutes (with the women giving them the weed ID details). O’Leary used a tambourine to move the weeders along.
The AP article says the participants were game to get the dirt under their fingernails all in the name of love, because it let them meet others with the same interests, namely “activists, gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts.”
“The typical speed dating, it’s just kind of awkward,” 47-year-old musician Brian Cox told AP’s Bonner. “But this is just beautiful, because it’s like outside, it’s very organic. Literally.”
I ran the idea by my resident singles expert, 23-year-old daughter Annette. “What would you think about weed dating?” I asked, briefly explaining the concept.
“Oh, that sounds terrible,” she said with no hesitation.
“It’s pulling weeds. That’s what you said it is? Pulling weeds?”
“That would be a hot, sweaty, blind date mess. I mean, what are you going to do when you’re done? ‘Hey, so you want to go get something to eat?’ when you’re all sweaty and dirty? That’s disgusting.”
OK, so maybe anyone with a farm connection fails to see the glamor in weed dating. But perhaps we need to think about this from the flip side: free farm labor! (Who cares if the singles get sweaty?)
Seriously. You could offer “Get Picked!” — free rock picking days after tillage (providing Sharpies so the datees could write their numbers on a rock for sharing with that special someone). Or Bale Buddy outings, loading and unloading straw after wheat harvest.
Why not use the “cute little baby cow” angle, and offer Calf Courting, where would-be couples could take turns feeding calves, moving between hutches or pens when the (what else?) cow bell rings.
The possibilities are endless. If you have horses, throw in a horseback ride after a “Muck Date.” If you have an orchard, get a few rows picked with an “Apple of My Eye” event. Get your tomatoes canned with an “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck” outing.
You could really provide a great service here, folks! The singles would be flocking to your farm to … work! Genius.
Just don’t call my daughter.
By Susan Crowell