It Takes a Team
And we’re off! The farm came alive Monday morning as the program officially launched! With enthusiasm in the air, the day started with introductions and games to learn each other's names. The teens toured the farm and became familiar with the spaces they will be stewarding this summer. As is the nature of beginnings, getting the logistics out efficiently helps prepare the team to hit the ground running, so they quickly become experts with the many duties and roles these young farmers are given.
Getting in the Groove
Throughout the week the teens were introduced to various types of farm chores and fieldwork they would engage in. Taking care of the chickens and goats, and maintaining our common spaces are some of the tasks the teens jump on right away after their morning check-in. Following this routine are separate assignments in smaller groups, and as the teens scatter around on the farm they become well-versed in the fieldwork that they will master by the end of the summer. Whether that’s trellising tomatoes, setting up posts, harvesting produce or fixing irrigation, the teens have the best attitude to approaching these unfamiliar tasks, embracing the chance to learn any and all new skills that develop on this vibrant land. When teens aren’t farming they are engaging in various social justice or land-based skill workshops! The group so far has had the pleasure of hearing from a local community herbalist, Amanda David, as well as local beekeeper Gil Menda, who both gave fascinating introductions to their expertise and gave teens an up close look into these captivating concepts. Both of these workshops have been able to harness part of the farm in a way that reshapes how the teens observe these spaces. Amanda’s walkthrough of the various uses of the herbs and plants in the gardens opened their perspective to the diversity of purpose that exists in the plants that they’re engaging with everyday. Gil’s demonstration of setting up an observation beehive was an amazing informational base for the intricate world of bees, giving teens the ability to interact with these creatures and ask questions on the why’s and how’s of beekeeping, bee life, and bee intelligence. This paired with the daily chores of the farm, field trips on Fridays, and fun activities all have created a vibrant atmosphere for the teens to learn and engage in. As the teens wake up early again the next morning they know they get to look forward to something new the next day!
By Melissa Montejo
A fresh breeze is always relaxing after a long morning of chores, and the sound of laughter and sight of smiles creates a shine that brightens the farm even on one of the more cloudy days of the week. Our four rockstar crew leaders Fatou, Jolie, Tara and Paula arrived on the farm this week to begin familiarizing themselves with their new positions for the summer, and I had the opportunity to meet all of them and learn how I can best support them. The crew leaders and staff spent the week running through the various types of morning chores, taking on new responsibilities and getting more and more excited for what this program will bring them. The staff’s continuous support for the program’s implementation can’t go unnoticed, from Lechandre’s delicious meals to Liz’s leadership on the field and everyone’s teamwork makes this year’s summer program another great start towards success for everyone whom the program interacts with.
Learning to Do
One of the biggest components for leadership training is learning the best way to engage with everyone, the land, and becoming comfortable with all of the responsibilities and the systems in place for this program to run smoothly. I’ve come to recognize the levels to learning at the Youth Farm Project, where some are more simple like recognizing all the food being grown in the different spots on the land or learning types of farm tools and practices, to others that require a bit more imagination, such as learning how to engage everyone on the farm so that they know how to enjoy themselves while still contributing to our mission. An aspect of this that I saw stood out was watching a leadership training exercise for our crew leaders, where they were given certain scenarios they might encounter on the job and had to figure out the best way to approach these situations. All of their responses came from a place of respect and in the best interest of everyone involved, demonstrating that our leaders understand their roles as mediators, listeners, and mentors, knowing that they will set the standard for positive and meaningful interactions with their fellow crew members and staff. As someone who is observing these interactions, I’m happy to report that I have 100% faith in our crew leaders in serving to the best of their ability, ensuring they are not overworking themselves while still managing to fulfill their duties as role models on the farm. I look forward to watching these lovely people grow into strong leaders for our program, and want to do everything I can to make sure all of their needs are met.
By Melissa Montejo