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Community Community Partners Our Vision Summer 2020 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Finding My Way in Nature’s Chain: Carrying The Farm’s Nourishment Into My Post-Grad Life

Guest post by Celia Dolan, Class of 2019

Inch by inch, row by row

Gonna make this garden grow

I hear the opening lyrics to The Garden song as I head out for work.  On my way, I pass by The Farm at Stonehill and am reminded of the tremendous growth abundant in those fields.  In my first year at Stonehill, I volunteered at The Farm essentially on a whim and it transformed what I studied, what my career goals are, and who I am.  I grew a thirst for knowledge about sustainable agriculture and food justice.  I grew an interest in learning about how my food choices and consumerism impact other people and the environment.  I grew new friendships and mentorships.  The Farm allowed me to grow the garden of my life, especially this year.

Three students stand in the field with trays and plants for first time volunteer hours
Brett Smith (’19), me, and Marissa Beachell (’19)
at one of my first volunteer hours.

In an effort to avoid bringing up the oft-discussed challenging circumstances of 2020, which we all recognize and understand, I will simply say that this season at The Farm was different.  The crew was small, but beautiful.  The crops planted were fewer, but abundant and delicious.  This summer was the end of the familiar and the start of adapting, embarking on a new journey, finding a new strategy for survival.  Such a sentiment felt especially real to me as I acknowledged that my time at The Farm was winding down and I’d have to seek out new ventures.

Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
‘Cause the time is close at hand

That seeking led me to my current position as direct service associate at My Brother’s Keeper (MBK).  Truly, I have The Farm to thank for this opportunity; had I not gone to MBK to deliver Farm produce and talked with their manager of the food assistance program, I wouldn’t have known about the opening.  I have the privilege of serving others each day and bringing food to those in the surrounding community – an effort to mitigate food insecurity similar to my work at The Farm.

Five people stand, arms around each other, in front of the Mobile Market van parked in a lot
Farm Director Bridget Lawrence-Meigs, Tim Watts, me, Cassie Pavain (’21), and Natalie McDonough (’20)
standing in front of our Mobile Market van during a market at 63 Main Street in Brockton.

 

The growth that I experienced at The Farm, first as a student, then as the assistant farm manager, continues today despite not being at The Farm on a regular basis.  Now, I work each day at MBK, but constantly feel my roots deeply planted down the street at The Farm.  Thanks to the amazing power of The Farm to feed my soul and my curiosities and passions, I have taken what I learned in the fields and classroom into my everyday life.  I continue to grow relationships and connections to The Farm in my new position.  Just last week, I spoke with Dennis, a volunteer at MBK, who was in the warehouse when Bridget stopped by with a donation of produce.  He chatted with me after, asking how long The Farm had been at Stonehill and how I got involved there.  He is a Stonehill alum, but never knew Stonehill’s farm existed and was moved by the mission and impact it had on me.  Another volunteer and alum, Bob, has exchanged gardening tips and sourdough baking methods with me on a regular basis.

A man and woman carry boxes of freshly harvested produce from the Farm through a parking lot to donate to MBK
Bob Grenier (’86) and me at MBK receiving freshly harvested and donated produce from The Farm.

A student volunteer from Bridgewater State University has had deep conversations with me about food justice, nutrition, the industrial food system on a regular basis.  She is full of excitement and enthusiasm that reminds me of the magical ways that food connects all people and all things.  One coworker of mine was previously involved in the restaurant business and loves talking about cooking, heirloom varieties, and various foodie topics that have exposed me to entirely new ways of seeing food.  Clearly, the growth and nourishment that started for me at The Farm continues to shape my life.

 Find my way in Nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music from the land

The Farm’s music is like a background melody for me as I load vans with food for deliveries.  And as I encourage our volunteers to compost spoiled food while making food boxes, rather than throw it in the trash.  And as I learn about people’s traditional foods, like cachupa and cus-cus from Cape Verde.  And when I spy urban beekeepers perched on the roof of a house near where we deliver.

An urban beekeeper spotted on a rooftop in Brockton with boxes of bees during a food delivery
Urban beekeeper spotted on a rooftop in Brockton during one of my food deliveries.

I miss The Farm dearly, but it is never truly gone from me, nor I from it.  It is a part of me, and a part that I carry unwaveringly.  Just as I, hopefully, will always be part of The Farm.

 

“I want to love the land before I’m gone

And can only hope it will remember me fondly

My worn paths and retraced steps and froglet offerings

My songs whistled, hummed, and sung”

-Excerpt from a poem I wrote in August

 

Thank you, 2020 crew, for a wonderful, beautiful, roller coaster ride of a season!  I wish you all the best and pray that The Farm will continue to shower blessings on you and everyone who steps foot on that beautiful ground.

Four students rest on a small wooden porch among yellow buckets of a varied harvested produce from the Farm
Owen de Graaf (’21), Bridget Lawrence-Meigs, Olivia Reed (’21), Joe Weber (’22), the 2020 crew,
basking in a beautiful harvest at The Farm.

 

Categories
Greenhouse Spring 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer Winter 2011

Season 2012 Begins – Time to Start Planting!

Photo of Brian and Sean
Brian and Sean plant our first seeds (onions!) of the season. (February 24, 2012)

The 2012 growing season has begun!

On February 24, Brian and Sean joined me in the basement of the Sem to plant our first seeds, which included 4 varieties of onions (Alisa Craig, Candy, Cortland and White Pearl Drop) and Snapdragons.  These two were quick studies, and with ease they prepped trays and set to work planting the small seeds.

photo of germinated onions
Candy Onions – up and looking for light in the greenhouse! (February 29, 2012)

It didn’t take long (5 days) before little green sprouts started to pop up into view. We moved them out into the greenhouse to ensure good light quality as they grow!

photo of Molly and Brian planting seeds in the Sem.
Molly joins me and Brian to plant another round of seeds. (March 2, 2012)

It didn’t take long for word to spread, and more farm volunteers arrived ready to work on Friday.  We planted lettuce, spinach, chard, and a couple of more flower varieties including Statice and Celosia.

first volunteers!
Brian, Sean, Molly, Brianne, Erin and Dianna… ready to farm! (March 2, 2012)

 The snowy morning at the farm did not diminish our enthusiasm as we moved the onions and greens that have already germinated out into the greenhouse.

photo of volunteers in the greenhouse
Brianne, Molly, Dianna, and Erin enjoy our greenhouse, heated by the sun, after moving trays up from the basement of The Sem. (March 2, 2012)

It will not be long before we are all out in the fields surrounded by the greens of spring, the vibrant rainbow of summer, and the deeper hues of the fall.

photo of snowy greenhouse March 2, 2012
March came in like a lion with some ice and snow.         (March 2, 2012)

For now we plant and water, watch and plan, as the days become longer and the temperatures begin to climb.

photo of statice sprouts
Statice Flower Sprouts (March 5, 2012).

Before we know it, these fields covered in the crystals of winter, will be filled with vibrant colors that only the longer, warmer days of the spring, summer and fall can bring.

Volunteers hours will begin in earnest after Spring Break. 

If you would like to receive emails about when you can volunteer please email Erin: ecobb@students.stonehill.edu or send us a message using the Volunteer Tab above.