I just wanted to share with you the wonderful experience I had on Friday
. I volunteered on a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. In this case, it was Holcomb Farm in West Granby, CT. See www.holcombfarm.org
for more info on them, and find the link for CSA for more info on that aspect of the farm.
A friend of mine who is moving back to CT after living in Chicago for a few years is living and working at the farm for eight weeks. The other women there (not sure why all the volunteers are women, but they are!) were there for two weeks already when Samantha got there. I hadn't had a chance to see Sam, and she suggested that I visit her on the farm. I decided to do her one better and volunteer for the whole day.
I picked a great day, too! It was warm and sunny, the first real summery day we've had this year, and I took advantage of it by wearing shorts so I could get some sun on my lily-white legs! We worked out in the field the first half of the day. Farmer Sam (not Samantha) would drive his tractor down a row, and an attachment on the back poked three rows of indentations into the ground, each about six inches apart. Water tanks attached to the back sprinkled water into the holes to prep them for planting. Then we followed, some people taking seedlings out of trays and dropping them into some of the holes (for some plants it was every hole, for some every other), and others following behind them covering the roots of the baby plants.
I mostly did covering. It was a little tough on the knees and the back, I must admit. I sometimes would squat down and sort of crab-walk my way along the row, and sometimes keep my legs straight and bend from the waist and zombie-walk along. One girl, Devorah, who seemed to just love the dirt, just sat herself down on the ground and scooted on her butt. It was quite cute and funny to see!
We started out planting fennel, and then moved on to two different varieties of lettuce. We also planted beets. I arrived just after 8:00 (only 5 minutes late, due to being stuck behind a school bus, but I already had to go searching the barns and fields for everyone!) and we worked straight through until 12:00. I took one short bathroom break and used the time walking and waiting for Sam while she was in the bathroom to swing my legs around and work out some of the kinks in my hamstrings and quads. Before breaking for lunch, Sam, Devorah, and I moved a bunch of trays of tomato plants from the heated greenhouse to an unheated one, and separated them into groups by variety.
At 12:00 we all walked back to the farmhouse for lunch. The original farmhouse, where Farmer Sam lives, was built in the early 1700's and the second part, where the volunteers stay, was added later. "Later" is still probably late 1800's or early 1900's. Samantha's birth father (she was adopted) was waiting there, having just a little time to come see her, so he had lunch with us. Farmer Sam went to his house and the rest of us ate together - Samantha's Dad (I can't remember his name just now) probably feeling a little estrogened-out surrounded by all these women! I had brought my own lunch - cheddar cheese, avocado, salad greens, and cucumber on homemade whole wheat bread. This is important because we really earned that meal, and it tasted SO GOOD! Most of the other women fixed huge salads for themselves. prompting Sam's Dad to ask if everyone was vegetarian. As it turns out, two are not, two are, and Sam is vegan. The non-vegetarians said their diet is highly plant-based even so. The conversation was lively, and Sam's Dad was charming and nice. After lunch, he asked to take a picture of everyone.
Then we went back to work. Most of us ended up in the greenhouse with the tomatoes. The "floor" was plastic tarp with holes cut in rows. We dug the dirt where those holes were, and transplanted the tomato plants. I finally adopted Devorah's butt-scooting technique as I dug and planted, dug and planted.
I was conscious all day as I worked that these plants would become meals for other people. That I wasn't just trying to do something right for it's own sake, but in order to keep these plants alive so they could then go on to keep people alive and healthy. I once had my own small vegetable garden, and I loved working in it. I found planting, weeding, watering, caring for the garden very meditative and therapeutic... spiritual, even. This day brought me back to that.
I had to leave a little early in order to get home and cleaned up for an audition. Farmer Sam asked if I wanted to take any plants with me, since they always start more plants than they can actually plant at the farm. I was thrilled with the offer! I brought home two tomato plants, some strawberry plants (one bunch, however much that is), two pepper plants, and six beet seedlings. I'm not sure how well they'll all do in pots on my patio, but I'll do my best! I borrowed a deep planter from a friend for the tomatoes, which I'm especially hoping will work out.
So, if you're still reading, and still interested, you can probably find a CSA near you. A good place to start is http://www.localharvest.org/
. I liked it so much I'm thinking of going back again! And, if I do, I'm bringing home lettuce...