From the Farmer – Week of August 22nd, 2016
We hope that you’ve been enjoying this season’s bounty! It has certainly been a labor of love akin to child rearing on our end. The summer portion of our season always feels like it’s winding down during this time of the year for me because it is when our Summer Youth Tillers program comes to an end. Our Tillers, however, have taken our theme of ‘Self-Determination’ to heart and many have decided to continue farming this season outside of our program. Two of our youth, Yolanda and Michael, have joined forces and created a backyard bed of beans and leeks. Yolanda has also decided to use her final project bed on the farm to cultivate the cold crops Kabocha squash and Royal Burgundy bush beans. She had a blast building the mounds for her squash plants last Friday and speaking with community art & farming educator Alexis Mena of Artpreneurship about her project plans. Tiller Carina created a small bed of carrots in the front of her family’s home; this is a special project as she saved some sprouted carrot plants from a bed she thinned on the farm and grew the others from seed! She has been monitoring the success rate of the carrot sprouts she saved and many took root in their new home! Kevin, another Tiller committed to growing outside of the farm, chose to conduct his final project on kitchen and windowsill gardens, using his ideas in his home to grow culinary herbs for his family. His planter boxes are upcycled from a storage container and Legos.
Our Tillers have also been inspired to share with our community how to make use of everything that we grow. The other half of our final projects and other great interests amongst the Tillers are culinary skills, recipe making, and nutrition. Michael assessed the crops we grow on the farm and created a mini cookbook using some of those crops. The book is geared toward market customers so there are price points for each recipe, the degree of difficulty of the recipe, pictures of the featured crop, and nutritional benefits. We plan to have this available at market soon! Rebecca also decided to create a cookbook, however, targeting a different audience and with a more formal flair (health glossary, note to parents, and a note from the author included in the back!). Rebecca’s recipes incorporate at least one Youth Farm crop and common household ingredients in the U.S. in kid-friendly procedures for healthy snacks. All recipes are original creations and encourage families to let their young children take agency in their health. Carina and Mariam teamed up to talk nutrition and will present this week on a popular nutritional technique for moderating portions and the healthfulness of your plate, MyPlate. Carina will also present on the health benefits of one of our popular crops, eggplant. This topic hits home for both of them as they have had to be very diligent about their diets due to health concerns. Mariam has also decided to look into growing a popular plant in her family and community during the school year, okra.
There is so much more to say about the research these students have committed to for seven weeks but I encourage you to hear it from the Tillers themselves this Friday, August 26 from 10am-11am on the farm. You can also witness them throw down in our makeshift kitchen at our Farmers Market (and taste their creations!) this Wednesday, August 23 from 2:30-4:30! Not only do you receive a Health Buck for attending the competition but you get to vote for your favorite dishes! Customers are encouraged to vote for the dish that has the best presentation, taste, creativity, and replicability to them.
It is inspiring to hear our youth speak on how their experience farming, preparing cooking demos for market, advertising the farm and their work, and conducting research in their specializations will carry over into their daily lives. They have truly meditated on self-determination and its relationship to growing food, land stewardship, and educating our community on what this means and its relevance to everyone’s life. I’m looking forward to continuing our work together in Farm Club, Youth Farm Leadership Council, and Go Green! with our 6 burgeoning experts fired up about topics such as seed saving, aquaponics, indoor growing systems, entrepreneurship, vermiculture, and balanced diets. Amazing projects and fun learning to come!
We Hope to See You on the Farm!