Spring has arrived and the farming season is in full swing. As of this writing we have been to three farmer’s markets, we have begun work with three new interns, and have welcomed 14 student groups out in the past three weeks (not counting spring break week). The record breaking cold of February which was followed by an unusually dry March and then followed by a record breaking rains in early April …hasn’t been all that bad. The cold and snow of February allowed us a little more time to plan, the dry March allowed us to get into even the wettest fields early to prepare the soil, and now the rains of April mean our newly planted seeds and plants and happy and we aren’t having to water very often. This has all been very welcome, allowing us to put more focus and attention into the training of our farm workers and to be more relaxed and mindful with leading the student groups in their projects.
We welcomed new farm interns in early March. For ten years the farm has worked with young adults from all over the country who come to apprentice with us for the season. They spend 8 to 9 months living and working on the farm and learning all the ins and outs of small-scale organic farming. Towards late summer/fall they will work more with students and gain new experience leading classes through various farm tasks. For the first time ever, all of our interns started on the same day, which has made training and communicating so much easier!
This season we are grateful to be hosting three amazing women, who in one month have proven to be a dynamic, thoughtful and hard-working crew. We have Casey from Atlanta, Georgia by way of Austin, TX. Josie from Northern California. And Washington local Kay from Bainbridge Island. We thoroughly enjoy working along side and nurturing the next generation of farmers. We couldn’t do all that we do without them!
Students have been very busy as well. Primary level groups have begun to make their spring visits this month, with two more groups scheduled for this week. They are enjoying farm tours where they can see all the different farm activities that go on in spring as well as visit with our animals and ask questions along the way. They are a very curious group! Afterwards they have been working hard to help clean up orchard prunings by hauling the cut wood to our burn piles. They show a lot of pride in their work!
Elementary groups have been making weekly trips to the farm throughout the winter and worked very hard to shell out the dry bean harvest. This spring they sorted, weighed and packaged over 50 pounds of heirloom pinto and soup beans that we have been selling at the Vashon Farmers Market. They have now begun greenhouse and field seeding as well as cleaning out orchards and fields to prepare for spring work. Last week as part of an Earth Day and science experiment, Jen’s elementary class brought out and buried five bundles of sorted refuse they assembled to see how decomposition rates vary with different materials. The results will be dug up in late May.
Over the past several weeks, middle school farm groups have been working on installing 50 new fruit trees, the first phase of the new food forest they helped design; measuring and learning about soil pH; building a roof for their pizza oven shelter during an extended 2-day visit; taking measurements for four sets of stairs that will improve access to their camping platforms; harvesting, cleaning, and preparing for market leeks, Brussels sprouts, carrots, sorrel, nettles, and kale; planting new raspberry plants; creating a planting stencil out of sheet metal then using it to prepare plastic sheeting for strawberry production; digging shallow trenches for the buried irrigation system they will install in the food forest and weeding perennial crops.
We are looking forward welcoming out students, staff and families to our spring farm events. Please join us April 27th for our farm work party and May 18th for the super fun annual Farm Celebration! We will also be at the school’s plant sale May 1st with lots of beautiful veggie, fruit and edible flower starts.
See you there!