Boom, boom, boom–hole, drop, cover.
Seedling after seedling gets nestled into its newly prepped bed. Soil plugs in transplant trays spread into three staggered rows of tender young kale plants. The greenhouse was so safe and warm, but the time has come to thrust them into the “real world”.
This past Monday, we harvested 101 bunches of kale! I think back to the time we transplanted these kale plants into this bed–they were just babies! Now they have grown strong stalks and lusciously giant leaves. They grow up so fast, don’t they?
Seeding, transplanting, watering, weeding, waiting. Life stages of a plant, life stages of a person.
My name is Jenny, and, like our kale plants, I am being thrust into the “real world” of farming. As one of this season’s Schoolyard Farm Interns, I have the privilege of experiencing first hand the aches, pains, and joys of what it takes to grow and share Good Food.
So far, us interns have been working with Fresh Roots since mid-March, learning how to harvest, process, and care for food crops destined for local eateries, homes and bellies. Cass, Gerson, Hanne and I work alongside Farmer Scott, gleaning knowledge and skills from his expertise, as I like to put it.
A Bit About Me
Yes, I’m one of those young and naive Millennial’s who want to “get back to the land”, and do my part in saving the world from catastrophe. Maybe that’s why I’m in a university program called Global Resource Systems. Maybe that’s why I’m into this whole farming thing. Though I might not call myself a visionary, I am one who has a love for simple, beautiful things, and what they can teach us. Like the gentleness and persistence in chasing a stubborn weed down deep to its root, lifting it up out of the soil with a digging fork so that it doesn’t snap. Like experiencing life cycles through watching kale grow from babies to giants. Somehow, I have hope that deeds as small as these can guide us into greater wisdom; wisdom that leads to more powerful agency in not just surviving, but thriving, together in life.
I am excited to be starting this blog as a place to gather the gems of my experience—thoughts and learning, questions and reflections. To help guide my writing, I will normally follow a three-part framework.
Hands, Head, Heart
Farming is more than a job. It is a way of life—a way of thinking, a way of engaging with the earth’s cycles of life and death and life again. The more I align myself with the natural rhythms and routines of cultivation, the more I begin to see that this includes all of the body, mind, and heart.
- In Hands, I’ll be sharing new skills that I learn (such as transplanting kale!);
- Head, botanical facts, general farming knowledge, and thoughts on the mental and emotional disciplines of our work (such as developing a mindset of working quickly—still working on this one!);
- and perhaps the piece dearest to me, Heart, will be a space for me to wax philosophical (and sometimes touchy-feely–vegetables can do that to me!), to take a step back and explore the deeper connections and metaphors of community-engaged agriculture on a broader, but also more intimate, level.
They say that farming is backbreaking work. These few months have taught me that it’s true. What is it that keeps farmers farming? What is it that draws people into working with the land again? How do farming and community relationships inform the ways we live and be? I am convinced that it is something that goes on in and flows from the heart. Hands are guided by the head; but indeed the head’s resolve is kindled by the heart.
To anyone who may be interested, I invite you to join me on this adventure!