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Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

NBC4 on the Farm

In Kids on the Farm on June 29, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Recently, Elaine Reyes of NBC4 came out to see our farm and chat with the kids a bit before school let out for the summer. Click on this link to see the full video on the NBC4 site. Our middle school kids turned a little uncharacteristically shy when the camera came on. Well, all except our resident arachnophobe. Not sure what I’m talking about? You didn’t click on the link, did you?

All jokes aside, we are very proud of how well our middle school students conducted themselves. This year, they have often found themselves the heavy laborers on the farm when certain tasks were beyond the abilities of younger students. They have risen to the needs of our school project time and time again. As middle school math teacher, John LaRue states in the video, the farm is for everyone. And it has given our older kids the ability to step into the role of school leaders by working hard to make sure that the farm is the best it can be. For everyone.

For the Birds

In Creatures on June 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm

While some gardeners would prefer not to see so many birds in their well-tended spaces, we welcome our fine-feathered friends to the farm. As we tell the kids, they eat weed seed (less work for you, kids!) and certain insects that could potentially wreak a little havoc with our plant life. And perhaps most importantly, they are pretty. Lest our young urban dwellers start to think that pigeons are the only birds around, we encourage them to notice and maybe even identify the birds they see on the farm.

The winsome creation you see above is the first of what we hope will be many birdhouses on the farm. Our farm operations director, Sarah, picked this one up in Berkeley, California a little while back at an inspiring place called Berkeley Rustic Birdhouses. Where recycled materials become new digs for birds.

The website is a treasure trove of beauties where the difficulty of choosing just one may drive you to distraction. So hard to pick a favorite with choices like this lovely below.

But we will not be buying all the birdhouses we envision for the farm. Our hope is that come fall when the kids come back to school, we can challenge our students to design and build birdhouses of their own, composed of recycled materials that we offer them. Can’t wait to see what our creative and energetic bunch dream up.

From Start to Stomach

In Happy Moments, Kids on the Farm on June 27, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Cucumbers seedlings on a windowsill inside school…

… became thriving, producing plants out on the farm…

… and gave a basket of cucumbers for farming kids in need of a snack. The same kids who swore they did not eat cucumbers when we planted a tray of them in April. Most satisfying. No “I told you so”s required.

A Sink Station at Last!

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Three groups recently teamed up with The Farm to build the first covered structure on our urban oasis – a sink station, fed by rain barrels.

Bob Schless and Dave Silbert are co-founders of So What Else, a grassroots humanitarian movement designed to strengthen area non-profits by bolstering volunteerism and inspiring activism. After we identified our most pressing need as a covered structure under which to rinse hands and veggies on the Farm, they worked to make our vision a reality by bringing together the know-how (their carpenters) and the muscle (their volunteers).

Want to see something really cool? So What Else associates Ryan Helfer and David Ross built this work table above from a deconstructed pallet. Genius! And there was no stopping these guys. Eduardo Gonzalez and company worked past sunset to complete the structure.

Students for Environmental Action, a K-12 environmental club at the Potomac School led by Bern Hoffman, not only purchased all the supplies needed for the sink station, but hand delivered them to the Farm on their school bus! The club focuses on environmental intiatives and awareness throughout the school and the greater community. They were glad to donate a portion of the proceeds from their Earth Day Farmer’s Market. “We recognize the important message that Walker Jones is sending to its students and would like to to support that”.

The day also provided an opportunity for a wonderful group of young adults from Hearts and Homes, an organization helping troubled children and youth become independent productive adults, to get some hands on farming experience. A few of them had some really good advice for us and they put in a full day of work! A couple are making plans to come back on a regular basis as farm interns.

Chloe Perez, Program Administrator of Residential Services, had this to say about the day’s experience: “Our kids really enjoyed the farm experience. They said they really felt like they were helping. The staff who accompanied and supervised the kids were so proud of those who participated because they were so focused and hard working, and it was the first of this kind of experience for most of them. They even expressed interest in creating a garden at their own house when they returned. The staff really enjoyed seeing them make such a contribution to the community.”

Many thanks to all who made our new sink station building day possible! We are constantly overwhelmed by the acts of kindness and generosity that feed our farming efforts. Now take a look at what the day’s efforts rendered.

Deal Gives Back

In Events, Kids on the Farm on June 7, 2011 at 11:41 pm

When Alice Deal Middle School assistant principal, Simon Rodberg, contacted us about bringing a group of seventh grade students out to the farm for a community service day, we were more than happy to accept the offer. Our excitement about the partnership proved more than warranted today as approximately 20 hardworking kids dug into a list of chores that could have been the undoing of even our most stalwart volunteers. Curious about what they accomplished?

– wood chipped pathways between rows

– pruned and fertilized the herb garden

– planted sweet potatoes and winter squash

– added compost to squash transplants

– mulched the strawberry beds with straw

– painted farm signs

– staked and pruned tomato plants

– weeded pathways and rows

– watered all the crops and the fig trees

– harvested lettuce to take home

They also got a farm tour, introduction to urban agriculture, and an overview of the crops and the methods we are using to cultivate an organic food supply. And enjoyed a picnic lunch on the farm. We had the honor of hosting some new friends to the farm, and seeing first hand what a significant impact the annual Deal Gives Back community service day can have for those lucky partners to whom they reach out. Many thanks to them all!