July 9, 2011

Farm Project: Year One

thefarmprojectLogo for certificate

This is a blog entry by Dylan Seder, one of this year's Farm Project crew members. The Farm Institute, in collaboration with Island Grown Schools, has started a new program this summer called the Farm Project. Our mission states: We are the Farm Project: a group of young people striving to fill the food security gap on Martha's Vineyard. We serve the people by distributing fresh, local produce, we inform the public on their nutritional rights, and we empower the community by providing hands on experience through the practice of gleaning and sustainable farming. The Farm Project is made up of five young people, and our supervisor Kaila. Amos, Zoe, Katie, James, and I spend a typical morning gleaning at Morning Glory Farm and distributing the gleaned food to places including The Tribe and Hillside Village. In the afternoon, we work in the production garden weeding, harvesting, pruning, and learning about produce and the way a good farm is run. We also participate in other farm projects including setting up pig and cow fencing, and making things like bio-char and all natural potato beetle spray. In addition to gleaning and working with produce, the FARM Project works with the farm animals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our supervisor on those days is Aaron, and we learn a ton from this guy. He's insanely knowledgeable. We work with the oxen, and tackle projects like setting up pig and cow fencing, or making ginger ale. These days tend to be mellower, but we really do gain crazy amounts of knowledge on everything from home cooking methods to nutrition and soil composition. So far, it's been an incredible experience. It's amazing how obvious it becomes after a short time that a Farm is a team. Without all team members communicating and interacting with each other in a productive, respectful, and empathetic manner, nothing gets done with the quality and time it deserves. It's a thrill to spend 3 hours working with teammates, muscling past challenges and obstacles, only to see the direct difference you made as soon as the project was complete. I remember our first major project was to move around 140 Turkeys from their brooder in the Cow-barn to a spot in the fields. We had to set up the new electric fence, mow the grass underneath it, and catch these birds by hand to put them in the transportation crates. It was a battle. By the end of the day I was covered in turkey poop and puke, exhausted from chasing them all over the place, and completely content knowing that my team and I had tackled the project, and completed it. We had done something that needed to be done, and every morning I biked to work I could see the new turkeys out underneath the shade structure out in the field we moved them too. The fruits of our labors, right in front of our eyes. Now that's how human beings are meant to work! Our supervisor Kaila is a total inspiration to us as well. Without her kind encouragement and positive attitude, it would be easy to feel overwhelmed by some of the tasks given to us. None of us are farmers, some of us had barely done any physical labor before this program, yet after only 4 weeks in this program, I feel totally competent to offer my help around the farm. I'm pretty sure Amos has learned so much already that he could probably run the program himself, and he's 15 years old. This is thanks to the guidance offered to us by the wonderful staff here at the farm. Special thanks to Chris and Hannah for being so patient with us the first couple weeks in the garden, and allowing us to grow to the point where we can actually do the jobs given to us in the fields with patience and deliberation. We were taught that even though some of the jobs were mundane, such as weeding, it was all part of what needed to be done. Now when I go out to weed, I put myself in a certain mindset: Whenever you start to feel bored, work harder. Do better quality work. Push on, it will always be worth it. After all, the most satisfaction always comes from completing the harder tasks in life. If you are a teenager reading this, I beg you to look into working on a farm. This place is alive. As soon as I turn the corner onto Aero Ave I can smell it in the air. I can smell the hay and the cows and most of all, the soil. I can feel the air get fresher as I get closer to the fields. I hear the animals greet me as I walk by, I look around and see nothing but plants and little kids being taught of the beauties of our earth and all it's childrem. This is the work we are supposed to do. This is the symbiotic relationship between man and earth.