Boy time flies. Today while we were putting the plastic on the new hoop house, we reminisced about planting it during the first week of July and how it seemed like ages ago. On Monday, half the crew met downtown to help out at Loaves and Fishes (see Raffi’s section), while the other half went to Kestral Perch to glean currants. We gleaned and froze over 20 gallons of currants from Kestral Perch that we will access during the winter months to make our raspberry-currant-jalapeno jam. This is the fourth year that Katie Creeger has hosted us to glean berries at her beautiful berry farm. Thanks Katie.
Raffi recounts his experience at Loaves and Fishes that Friday (the half of the group, went to Loaves and Fishes on Friday):
Volunteering at Loaves and Fishes this year was a great experience. After the two crews moseyed into Loaves, we started work. The crew of volunteers that were in charge of running Loaves, were like a well oiled machine. We started out by bagging up bread for people to take home and setting all the tables. After a little break for breakfast, Simon dropped off two cases of kale and told us that the plan for the day was to make some sort of messaged kale salad for the lunch. Since this was my first year as a crew leader and most of the crew wasn’t exactly sure what a messaged kale salad was, I was taken a little off guard to say the least. Luckily my co-crew leader, Zofia, was a connoisseur of kale salads, so she led us to meet the challenge. Surprisingly in the end, without any help from adults, we were able to come together with a nice kale salad. Then Loaves opened its doors for lunch and although I spent the majority of time in the kitchen washing dishes, I enjoyed watching Youth Farmers eating and mingling with folks eating lunch. It was cool to come down to Loaves and Fishes as a crew and bring vegetables that we had helped grow. I would recommend volunteering at Loaves and Fishes for anybody that enjoys sharing a good meal with community.
In addition, to visiting two awesome community partners, we spent time with Emma Frisch at the farm, who helped a group of youth make some delicious snacks for us all to enjoy after we were hard at work in the fields. Check out a beautiful blog post full of pictures and recipes that Emma Frisch wrote after her visit. http://www.emmafrisch.com/2014/08/summer-squash-pasta-with-chard-mint-pesto.html. To top it all off, we learned about cover crops together. Using cover crop fact sheets, youth were able to predict what cover crops would be useful for various realistic on-farm scenarios that Rafa and I detailed. Afterwards, we explored the cover crops of the farm: a tall field of cereal rye, mowed pathways of annual rye grass, and a dense field of red clover, half of which was plowed under to fertilize field #4 filled with fall brassicas. Finally, we all took turns hand broadcasting annual rye grass in the pathways of field #4 and buckwheat around the potatoes.
This week we accomplished a lot on the farm: We seeded beets, radishes, transplanted fall crops, trellised hoop house tomatoes, put plastic on our new hoop house, and mowed and weeded. And most importantly we enjoyed each others company while doing it!
By the Amsili Bros: Raffi and Joseph
PS: Loved sharing my time at the Youth Farm this summer with my bro!
It’s been a busy week on the farm. We have been hard at work picking rocks, weeding, trellising tomatoes, mowing pathways, transplanting fall crops, harvesting and putting plastic on our newest hoop house. On Tuesday we were joined by the GIAC Skate Campers who worked hard in the fields with us for the morning and then helped our wonderful guests, Damon and Jackie, from Fruits and Roots Juice. Together we juiced kale, cucumbers, carrots, beets, apples and a touch of ginger to make a delicious drink to nourish ourselves for the afternoon. In addition to lots of work on our farm, we also spent time on two other farms this week. On Monday we visited Kestrel Perch and gleaned gooseberries. On Thursday we spent the day at Rocky Acres Farm, where our farmer friend Rafael Aponte is raising goats and chickens.
What stands out most to me about this week was our development session on
Wednesday. I began the morning a bit early, and spent time harvesting chanterelles in the forest
with Dan and Amelia, before heading to LACS. As we hunted and harvested we talked about the
excitement and satisfaction of foraging for food and being able to have an image of exactly
where your food came from. Our development session was focused on learning about many of
the health issues related to the way most Americans eat. This is my third summer working at the
farm, and each year we have discussed these issues, mostly focusing on Obesity and Type II
Diabetes. Even though the information was not new to me, it still shocked me to learn how many
people are, or will be suffering from these problems. It angers me to understand the injustice in
these numbers, and the way that socio-economic status plays a role in determining who is likely
to experience these health problems. To balance out our discussion we shifted the conversation
towards a brainstorm of ways that we, at the Youth Farm Project, can do to combat this
inequality, and positively change the opportunities and health of those in our community. We
hope to expand our work in the coming years, in order to educate more people (especially young
people) about these issues, and reach out to folks who may not have access to local, healthy
produce. Among many ideas, we discussed the possibility of becoming part of or starting more
farmers markets in areas of town that have less access to supermarkets and farmers markets, as
well as donating more of our produce to food pantries in the area, especially in Danby, where our
closest neighbors reside.
As part of the session we were asked to think about a meal that left us feeling completely
satisfied. Each person wrote a brief summary of what they ate, who they ate with, where they ate
and how they felt afterwards. Several of us shared with the group. Each person who shared
talked about the process of preparing the meal with friends and/or family and then eating with
those same people. So often in our culture it seems that we forget the importance of creating and
sharing food with a community, and the meaning this holds for all of us. The meal that we
prepared on Wednesday couldn’t have better embodied this idea of delicious food and
community. Our guest chef Rachel Ostlund helped us prepare Fritattas with swiss chard, onions,
garlic and chanterelles, Kale and Toasted Bread Salad, Beet and Bean Salad, Zuchini Muffins
with Lemon Glaze and our very own “YFP Soda” with cucumbers, mint and lemon basil! Before
we ate our meal we folded fancy paper towel napkins, set a long table and sat down together. I
felt appreciative as I ate the meal, enjoying the beautiful fact that as a community we had grown,
prepared and eaten this food together.
After reading this I hope you will take the time to prepare and share a meal with some of
the wonderful humans in your life!
Written by Rayna, 2nd year crew leader
Week 3: 7/14-7/18
Hi, it’s Vicky. This is my second summer at the Youth Farm and my first year as a crew leader. The summer here seems to be flying by and we’re already three weeks in! People are becoming closer and building stronger bonds; it’s great. And there is so much smiling. Everyone has blessed me with hilarious conversations and so much laughter.
This week was a particularly great week at the farm; good weather (not too hot or cold), in-depth conversations and lots of laughing. Everyone on the farm did a lot of hard, fulfilling work this week and through it, we were smiling and getting very dirty. Just my crew alone seeded over twenty flats of basil, zucchini, and lettuce in one morning. Then as a whole group, we discussed the meaning of sustainable farming.
Wednesday was our weekly development session at LACS. We had two local leaders in the community, Kirby Edmonds and Jemila Sequira, come to speak to us. Kirby Edmonds, Dorothy Cotton Institute Fellow and Coordinator of Training for Change, led an informative discussion about structural poverty in Tompkins County. Kirby shared that the local employment/education/prison system gives children in poverty very few options for escaping poverty. Simply put, youth in poverty can end up with two options for employment: 2-3 minimum wage jobs or illegal activity such as selling drugs. Also, the public education system doesn't prepare youth to break out of this poverty cycle. This, on top of the fact that poverty can restrict access to capital to pursue higher education or to start a business. Kirby didn’t stop his talk at the hard to break cycle of poverty, but showed that public education, workforce training, and other types of social justice organizations have so much untapped potential to help us all attain ownership in the way we provide for ourselves, family, and community through living wage jobs, access to capital. Next, Jemila, Whole Community Project coordinator, shared how she became a leader in the local food justice movement and shared projects from the community.
The chef for this week was Shimels Damtew, owner of Shimel's Ethiopian Cuisine, a pop-up food stand, came and cooked some delicious beef tips, bean/carrot saute, and greens with us. I wish I knew how to describe this with more detail, but I do know that the food was amazing!
Thursday and Friday, we planted potatoes for four hours. It was a lot of potato planting but my crew had a lot of help from other crews so we got three rows done and after that, we stood and marveled at how quickly and efficiently something can get done if you have ten kids all setting their minds to it.
Written by Vicky, Summer 2014 Crew Leader, and Joseph.
Week 2: 7/7-7/11
We started off the week strong by splitting into four smaller crews that we will continue to work with for the remainder of the summer. We worked on many tasks such as staking, trellising tomatoes, seeding, mulching pathways and of course WEEDING. It was lovely watching the crews work together and start to get to know one another as individuals rather than just faces in the crowd.
On Wednesday we spent the day at LACS in our first development session of the summer. We worked in crews to break down the process behind one item of food. By doing this we discovered just how convoluted our food system is and the fact that most of the time we (the consumer) aren’t even aware of where our food comes from.
We were lucky enough to have a guest speaker: Jhakeem Haltom, founder and manager of Congo Square Market, who gave a new, eye opening perspective on what it means to live in modern society. He captivated the room and held our attention throughout with his views on the modern day slave saying that “the worst kind of slave is the one who does not know that they are a slave.” By the end nobody knew what to say- still reeling from the power of his statements and the questions that he posed.
In addition to Jhakeem, we had the opportunity to work with Frank Purrazzi to build an unforgettable lunch menu. We made homemade ramen with greens, eggs, and some delicious kimchi with fresh ingredients from the farm. It was an excellent development session that left everyone thinking about some really important issues that effect us all whether we are aware or not.
Something that stuck with me this week was the question “what is a food system?” posed by Joseph and Rafa. As we sat in the barn, one could almost feel the ideas forming- the sound of gears turning, connections being made. It wasn’t necessarily the question itself, but the fact that the group took the time to analyze and break it down to make the answer their own. The discussion left many with a new perspective on what we are doing here on the farm and what we can continue to do in the larger community to improve and build upon this concept of creating a sustainable food system.
All in all it was a really strong week and I look forward to seeing where the summer takes us and what knew ideas will be formed.
By Zofia, crew leader summer 2014
On July 1st, twenty high school age youth arrived to work on the first day of the Ithaca Youth Farm Project's Summer Program. The first few days of the summer program serves as an orientation to the Youth Farm. The orientation period is filled with various games/ice breakers to get to know one another and to create a safe environment from the beginning. In addition, we spend thoughtful time together in the barn to set goals for the summer, to commit to working agreements and common standards, and to introduce everyone to the Youth Farm's mission, vision, and history. Last, but not least, we spend time exploring the fields that we are farming this year and we get a good taste of the hard/rewarding work that will fill our summer. (picture: The 2014 Summer Crew stands proudly in front of the weeded onion beds and pathways).