East High Farm Season Highlights

This past week was our last week of programming out at the East High Farm. What a season! I, personally, had a wonderful second growing season out at the land. My impression is that all of the youth did, too! Here are some highlights of the year. 

Food! Who can deny that the output of the garden is one of the most exciting things for most gardeners. Each day at the EH farm involves at least a little bit of tasting of whatever is ready in the field at that time. Many days feature some kind of cooking activity: making salsa, pickles, sauerkraut, pesto, veggies and dip or just eating things raw and fresh from the harvest.  The kids also get to take food home to their families, which is always exciting for them!

 

Harvest! The act of harvesting was a beloved task for most of the farm workers. The great thing about gardening a 1/4 acre of land is that we produce a lot of food!  (3600 lbs. this year to be exact!)  Most days the harvest is big enough to be exciting and impressive to the youth that are out there. The most popular and fun crops to harvest were the potatoes, onions and brussels sprouts. The high school and middle school students loved the big harvest in the summer of the thousands of onions we grew and the rows of potatoes we cultivated. I am not sure if it was because most of them like and eat these vegetables, because they are fun to harvest, or because we had so many of them that the harvest felt like an impressive feat. The kindergarterners from Kennedy elementary were in love with harvesting the brussels sprouts. I told them the last day that they were hands down the best harvesters of that plant on the whole farm. The plants are difficult to get out of the ground - in fact, the rest of us would often use an old pruning saw to cut them off at the soil level because we couldn't get them out of the ground. But, even though the K-1 kids were as tall as the plants, somehow week after week they were able to team up three or four kids to a plant and pull them out of the ground. Hilarious and so cute!

 

 

Bees! We had two hives living at the East High Farm this year and they were an endless source of excitement and curiousity for all ages. It was as if they were magnetized - everyone who worked on and visited the farm was attracted over to that area and always had many questions (of which we could only answer some!). Two local beekeepers were looking for a place to set up some hives and since they are friends of Kitty's she offered space at the farm. They visited last month and taught 4 workshops to various ages to help us understand the bees and their magical lives. They even brought a small jar of honey for each of us to take home! We had a tasting with graham crackers and fresh honey which was definitely a delicious highlight of this fall season!

Celebration! Kitty had the great idea to have a meal in the field together before the end of the summer program. We had 30+ people at the farm three days a week all summer. We were split into teams of mixed ages (middle school, high school, college, post college) and worked together each day. For the harvest meal the teams scoured through cookbooks to pick out recipes that featured produce from the farm. They wrote shopping lists for things that were needed from the store and then prepared their meals at various sites since we don't have a full kitchen at the farm. My team went to the kitchen at East High and made chard pie and carrot cake. Other teams made stuffed peppers and tomatoes, ratatouille, fresh ice cream, spicy Asian salad, hot pickles and much more. We set up tables in the field, covered them with tableclothes and set them with silverware and colorful plates and cups. It was a meaningful and celebratory way to end our time together out at the farm.

The program continues this fall and winter as the class at East will have time to explore farming and agriculture through indoor classroom work with Kitty King. I will work on grant writing, planning for next year, creating the farm plan, and ordering seeds. I'll be back at East in February to start mixing soil for the greenhouse with the students and sowingthe  seeds for the next season of our farm. We have lots of ideas for next year including expanding our cooking program out at the farm, selling more produce to raise money for the program, and integrating the kids into the beekeeping activtities.

See you next spring!

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