Sunday, February 27, 2011

This ground on which the seed of love is sown

Getup classmates Sophie and Lynn share their experiences during yesterday’s workday:

Sophie: Container gardening & inspiring visitors to grow their own!

Hello blog-readers! It's Sophie again, one of the Garden for The Environment GetUp! graduates volunteering at the Free Farm.

This not-so-snowy Saturday a brave 16 volunteers came out to the Free Farm workday hosted by Tree. When we arrived Tree ushered us into the newly finished greenhouse where he showed us a list of the possible jobs for the day. Excited to work in the container garden, I chose to fill the newly finished pots (made by Lowell High School ceramics students) with a combination of potting soil and compost.

After finishing filling each of the pots (and taking a break to enjoy a delicious lunch made by Alena), I walked down to the greenhouse to see what I could plant. Tree directed me to a huge tray of little radish plants that were ready to be planted along with a smaller tray of lettuce plants. I transplanted a mixture of each of these two plants into the three pots, spacing them each 2 finger widths apart.

Transplanting has become one of my favorite parts of gardening. Although it is pretty simple, I love being able to take plants that are so small and transfer them to a new home, where they will be watered and tended to until they are ready to be devoured. Seeing the crops that you initially planted (or transplanted) as tiny seeds (or small plants) grow to be healthy crops ready for consumption is so rewarding.

Sophie plants lettuce & radish in ceramic pots made by Stanley's Lowell High students

Even more rewarding is working at the Farm Stand where neighbors come and take produce for their week. As I volunteer at the Free Farm longer, I begin to recognize Farm Stand regulars. Every week, a woman from the neighboring apartment building comes by and tells us about her week. This week she shared with us her attempts at trying to grow her own rosemary. This exemplifies the mission of the Free Farm, getting regular customers or even someone who is just walking by to see the farm and be inspired to grow something of their own. The newly built greenhouse is advancing this mission by housing starters that will eventually be given away to the neighborhood residents.

Until next week,

Lynn: Jack hammering cement and planting Yacón

On Saturday many volunteers come to spend their morning outside. The compost was steaming, favas were happily in flower, plumbing was implemented, collards and kale were harvested, I dug a terrace for the first time, and a handful of people went home with free veggies for the day. Unfortunately, a dead pigeon found itself on the Free Farm, so we gave it a proper burial.

Aaron and I were a few of the earlier volunteers to arrive. We were listening to Tree’s instructions of how and where to plant the Yacón before John came in to steal Aaron for help with jack hammering the cement away. Plumbing was more important on this day. It was his first time using a jackhammer and, though hesitant at first, he found it to be a thrilling experience.
John watches Aaron jackhammering cement Lynn planting Yacón
I continued on with planting the Yacón as Tree tended to other new coming volunteers seeking to help out. Carmen came by and harvested collards. John buried the pigeon, I gave a short eulogy. Other volunteers helped out with the greenhouse, watered, planted new seeds, and worked on new plumbing. Stanley brought two new clay pots made by her lovely students.

After a lovely morning of work, it was soon noontime, lunch to be served. The day’s menu: buttered white and wild rice with roasted butternut squash, collards, and herbs. Banana pudding bread, freshly baked bread, and peanut butter on the side. We gathered together in our typical Gratitude Circle. We held hands as Evan lead with a Grateful Dead lyric, “Last leaf fallen bare earth where green was born.” He thanked everyone for their time here, John lead a group breath, and we were ready to eat.

Play Grateful Dead's "New Potato Caboose" at

In the afternoon, a sink was installed, people went home with freshly picked local organic produce, I dug a terrace with Jordan’s help, weeds were pulled, and a vegetable bed layout was designed for one of the greenhouses.

Aaron and I went home feeling like a morning was well spent. It was incredibly rewarding to work out in beautiful weather with good friendly people, and share a delicious meal together.

Next week, I’ll be planting those Sunchokes on the new terrace. We’ll see how theYacón is doing, and perhaps the compost will be ready for turning. I wonder what new seedlings will have sprouted? New work done on the greenhouses? I wonder what delicious meal our volunteers will have made for us next week? What new friend I’ll make? Come join us to find out!

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