It ended up being perfect that some of the youth wanted to express concerns they were having with the farm today considering it was raining for most of the morning. This turned into a really great talk where we decided how some things were going to run differently next year, including having a week of training for those individuals who are going to be asked to be group leaders and allowing the youth to have more influence over what we do each day. All of the suggestions were recorded and as many as possible will be implemented next year.
After chatting, we got to work on making signs which label each of the rows in the u-pick section of the row. It was great to see what kind of carpentry and artistic talents exist within the group. Next, we harvested for Congo Square Market. There were a ton of zucchini and summer squash along with some cucumbers, kale, collards, green sweet peppers, hot peppers, okra, tomatoes and herbs. There are going to be a lot of satisfied people at the market!
We were happy to welcome Ann back to the farm today! We decided that a great task for the youth farmers to complete before the program is over next Friday would be to get all of the mulch (straw) down in between the rows. This involves weeding what's there and then laying down a thick layer of straw. After breaking up into groups and doing some tasks such as cleaning up some of the trash around the farm and taking inventory in the cooler, we got to weeding the rows that had already been weeded before. After break, which included watermelon, we broke up again and laid straw down on the rows we had weeded before.
With the role of "boss" renewed, some of the farmers felt comfortable expressing their qualms with how the farm is going so far. We decided it was a perfect time in the program to let these feelings fly, so we are going to have a group discussion tomorrow morning.
There were two new things that happened today. First of all, we were joined by Joanna from Stick and Stone farm who came to help us as an expert farm hand in exchange for our work at Stick and Stone the week before last. Second, the straw came today! After a game of SPUD, we got to work on weeding out the remaining weeds in the first four paths between rows. This was a task that we finished before eleven.
After break, Joanna, Darnell, Pete and I decided that the best way to get the straw down would be to spice things up and make it fun! The way we would do this is to have all three of the groups take on a row and race to finish the task of preventing weeds from coming up through the straw. When we said go, the groups were off in a fury. All of the rows were sufficient according to the standards enforced by our guest farmhand and we were in the barn having a discussion by quarter to one. In the discussion, we talked about what everyone learned, what some of the struggles were and what it was like to truly work as a team to accomplish a task in the most efficient way they can think of. The winning team got to pick what snack I am going to bring them on Wednesday. They chose watermelon. I would say it was a successful afternoon!