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DOWNTIME: “When my back goes out, I’m down,” he said. “It can be as long as two to three months. It’s very painful.”

So the Crespos modified their farming practices to lessen further trauma on a bad back. For example, the benches inside the greenhouse are higher than normal so they don’t need to bend over to pick up flats of plants.

“I do not stoop for anything,” Mark said of his back problem. “I flat cannot stoop.”

FIELD FIX: In the field, a plug transplant- ing tool allows them to plant their seed- lings while standing. The Crespos hire out the cutting and baling of their hay crop into small bales and the bucking. “I drive the tractor,” Mark added.

LIGHTEN UP: In the garden, lifting and hauling are kept to a minimum. “We carry small loads,” he said.
Items removed from the plots—produce, rocks, weeds—are only taken a few feet to the 14-foot-wide aisle where they can be loaded on a tractor. Farm apprentices help with weeding and harvesting.

ADAPT: “The easiest thing to do is to modify the workload. The farm is so diversified that if my back even starts to get sore, I’ll go do something else,” he said.

But Mark isn’t going to let his back prob- lem take him away from the farm. “My back is a huge challenge. It’s hard for me to rein it in because I love to work.”

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