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Community Summer 2017 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Melissa Mardo – Learning By Doing

A woman stands at the open back of the Mobile Market van to help pack it up with produce and spread the word
As a Farm and Mobile market Intern, Melissa often helped to pack up our van and spread the word about our Mobile Market – and how to prepare healthy and delicious meals with our produce.

I am so grateful to have spent four years volunteering at The Farm At Stonehill and two full summers as an intern. Each day there was a new experience, new plant ready to be harvested, and a new lesson to learn. There are three stories that stand out to me from the summer.

A bunch of students pose with Farm workers and a yellow bucket full of the beans they helped pick at Camp Shriver
Happy bean pickers – participants in Camp Shriver!

Every summer, The Farm At Stonehill hosts Camp Shriver kids that attend a camp on Stonehill’s campus. There is a new theme each year such as composting, planting, etc. and the kids get to visit the farm each week and help with harvesting. One week kids came to harvest green beans, which is back-breaking work and seems never ending. The entire group was so excited about the size of the green beans they had handfuls of beans they were putting into our bins. Some kids had eaten green beans before, others had never seen the plant, yet all of them were willing to try this mysterious new vegetable and they loved it! We had to fight with these elementary school kids not to eat all the green beans in order to weigh the harvest before they could take some home. I’ve seen kids go crazy for candy, but it was so rewarding to see their genuine excitement over vegetables.

Three women in matching shirts stand ready for customers by a table of yellow buckets full of broccoli and leafy greens under a white tent by the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center
Michelle, Jackie and Melissa are ready for customers to arrive at our 63 Main St. (Brockton Neighborhood Health Center) location in late June.

This summer we geared up for the second year of our Mobile Market and launched a new location at an assisted elderly home. Just like with the campers, these residents could not contain their excitement each Wednesday afternoon when our van rolled up with fresh fruits and veggies. We were greeted with happiness, curiosity for our new weekly vegetables, and inundated with thank you’s. Each week there was one woman who visited our market stand telling us the recipes she created the previous week from the produce she bought from the market. I was so thankful to see her each week, and hear her story (and recipes) about how the farm’s produce impacted her directly. I’m used to seeing The Farm truck drive off with veggies to be delivered to our partners, but I don’t often get to talk with the people who eat them.

Rows of plants growing through the layer of biodegradable plastic, covering long adjacent beds stretching across the Farm
Farming is a lot of work – but it is rewarding!

Finally, I’m so happy I’ve had the opportunity to be able to work in nature. To measure my success from the day based on how much dirt I had piled up under my fingernails. To remember how many zucchini I harvested based on the red scratched on my legs from the leaf prickles. To have my back ache in the evening because I spent the morning picking strawberries. Not everyone gets a work day outside in the sun (and rain), moving around instead of seated at a desk, and able to breath fresh air. I’ve spent so many years learning inside at a desk in a classroom, that the farm was one of the first learning experiences I had outside of four walls and learning by doing. I am passionate about experiential learning based on how The Farm has impacted my learning experience and so many others. I encourage you all, to spend some time outside and see who you can meet and what you can learn out there.

 

Three young children hold small buckets as they learn the joys and hard work of farming in the leafy green beds
Come on out to the farm this fall and next season to join us in the field and learn more about the joys (and hard work) of farming.
Categories
Community Community Partners Fall 2011 Fall Harvest 2011 Fall Projects 2011 Fall Volunteers 2011 Our Vision Summer Harvest 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Harvest Time Made Easy by Volunteers

We are still very busy bringing in the harvest at The Farm! 

photo of carrots and carnival squash
Carrots and carnival squash, freshly picked and ready for delivery.

Thanks to up to 50 weekly student and staff volunteers leek, tomatoes, carrots, kale, bok choi, kale and even sweet potatoes are filling up our harvest bins and the tables of our partners.

photo of students washing carrots
Three students, many carrots!

Last week when Beth came to pick up for My Brother’s Keeper we filled every last bit of space – even the front passenger seat – in her cargo van with our vegetables. We are happy to see veggies like winter squash, kale and leeks all being sent out together and have high hopes that they will soon be cooked together into a delicious and healthy soup.

Harvesting Leeks photo
Fall harvest of our Tandora Leeks.
photo of a leek
Many roots to grow a healthy leek. A couple of leeks to cook a flavorful dish.

We welcome students and staff to join us on Thursday mornings and Friday afternoons to ensure a plentiful and diverse mix of produce for The Table at Father Bill’s and MainSpring and the Old Colony YMCA.

photo of volunteers
Sun or showers, the volunteers are an essential ingredient to our healthy farm.

After we harvest, we weigh, wash and pack the produce… smiling all the way.

Sorting Sugar Pie Pumpkins
Volunteers Weighing and Sorting Sugar Pie Pumpkins

We were happy to welcome a few Stonehill Alumni this past Saturday and welcome all local Alums, Staff and Students to consider joining us on Friday afternoons between 2:00 PM and 5:30 PM until the frost of fall arrives.

photo of group bagging greens
Baby Bok Choi and Kale: Weighed and packed up for delivery to Old Colony YMCA.

See you soon at The Farm!

For more information on how you can volunteer at the farm please email our volunteer coordinator Erin: ecobb@students.stonehill.edu

 

Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Earth Day at The Farm!

Greenhouse construction continues with help from a Stonehill College family on Earth Day 2011.

photo of Bruce, Trent and Brian Switzer at the Farm.
Bruce (Stonehill Alumnus, Class of '81), Trent (future Stonehill student?) and Brian Switzer (Class of 2013) help out on Earth Day.


While I am a big proponent of the idea that “Earth Day is Every Day,” I have to admit that on April 22nd each year I am filled with additional urge to spend the day outside where my senses can pick up on Spring’s arrival.

This year, the weather was perfect for celebrating spring as we recommenced work on our greenhouse project.

~~~

Photo of Bridget in greenhouse - bows up!
Bows up in just about and hour, and suddenly I am standing in our future greenhouse!


The morning begins sleepily.

Pale, grey skies steadily brighten to blue.

A warming sun and a gentle breeze by noon.

At day’s end Mare’s tails lightly streak the sky.

Hinting at showers to come and the greens of spring to follow.

 

 

~~~

Chuck and I had the bows up within the first hour and then set to work attaching the purlins to stabilize the structure.

photo of blue skies and purlins
Bows and purlins against a blue sky streaked with "Mare's Tails" (Cirrus clouds).

Around noon, Brian Switzer (Class of 2013) arrived at the farm to assist and set to work tightening the many bolts on the frame and then helped us prep the edges of the greenhouse to install the baseboards.

Photo of Brian and Chuck working on Baseboards
Brian and Chuck prep the southern edge of the greenhouse for the baseboards.

 

An hour or so later, Brian’s father and Stonehill Alum, Dave (Class of 1981) and his younger brother Trent arrived on the scene. They worked together to excavate along the edges of the structure to make way for our baseboards, made from Eastern White Pine, grown in the USA and purchased from Fenandes, our local hardware store.

Photo of Dave, Trent and Brian digging the trench
Dave, Trent and Brian Switzer prepare the northern edge of the greenhouse for the baseboards.

They also dug trenches along the outside edges of the greenhouse to make way for drainage pipe to minimize greenhouse flooding when heavy rains fall.

~~~

By day’s end the bows were up, purlins set, and baseboards in!  One step closer to completion.

Photo of Greenhouse end of Day 3
Day 3: Bows, Purlins and Baseboards in place.

I am looking forward to filling the space with our green seedlings and when they are strong enough and the weather has warmed a bit, out into the fields where they will set about their work producing delicious vegetables.

photo of pepper seedlings
"Islander"bell pepper seedlings growing and awaiting their time to move into the greenhouse and then into the fields.

They will draw on nutrients in the soil, light from the sun, and water from the earth and sky, and in due time play a role in feeding those same soils with organic matter to grow healthy soils and future harvests.