Monday, October 28, 2013

Thank You, 2013 Henry Got Crops Team!

This season the Henry Got Crops crew was the most experienced group to work on the farm yet. Almost everyone on our 2013 staff had either worked or volunteered on the farm in 2012. The skills of this team really brought the growing season to a new level of efficiency, productivity, education and fun. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love this farm with all my heart and soul, and the farm is inseparable from the people who work alongside me in the field. If I could have my way, I would have next year look just the same as this year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work, passion, commitment and love for this funny little place in Roxborough.
Tara- Tara did her co-op hours at the farm last July and well…simply has never stopped coming to the farm since then! She was all eyes and ears as she was eager to learn and help with anything and everything. Tara even volunteered over the winter when it was freezing rain outside and the hoop houses were small oases of warm green space. The farm education apprenticeship was a natural fit for Tara as she was particularly interested in working with youth. Tara- the farm education programs have grown so much in the last year, due to your ability to help realize their full potential. You are always there to lend a hand, stay till the job is finished and turn any moment on the farm into a learning opportunity for the students at Saul.
Clare- I have had the pleasure of working with Clare for three years now and I have witnessed her take on the leadership and dedication necessary to create in-depth, organized year-round education programs at Henry Got Crops. Clare, you are always the first to notice if I am having a tough day and offer the unconditional support necessary to get through a long season. Over the years, Clare has deepened the hands-on learning at the farm with big picture, full-circle curriculum that brings the learning experience at Saul high school to a level that every other high school should be envious of. Clare, you take care of all those around you and I am lucky to work alongside you.
Chris- Chris came to us as the apprentice from 2012 and I just couldn’t bear to let him go. After a few conversations over the winter about what his next farming move might be, I somehow was lucky enough to have him back. Chris maintained the orchard in its pivotal, critical, first year of growth.  I don’t think Chris or I knew what to expect in year one with the new orchard. Without Chris’s attention the orchard would surely be a dry, weedy jungle instead of the beautiful, clover-lined, thriving space that it is. Chris wrestled with 300 feet of fire hose once a week to ensure the trees got the water they needed. He weeded, and then weeded again, and then weeded again. He replanted the trees that didn’t survive the winter. And on top of it, he also helped out in the vegetable field twice a week and was just the added energy we needed to wrap up the harvest before dark, and get that week’s transplants in the ground on schedule. Chris, I can always count on you to make me laugh, even when (or especially when) the chaos of the farm almost seems unbearable. You have seen this farm through so much growth in the last two years.
Hannah- Hannah and I met six years ago when she was volunteering at the Weavers Way Mort Brooks farm the year that I was apprenticing there. Hannah probably wins the prize for wearing the most hats with Weavers Way. She has been a dedicated volunteer at all the farms, an intern at the Mort Brooks farm for a full summer, the Program Coordinator for the Beginning Farmer Training Program, which was partially hosted by Henry Got Crops, and this year she joined our harvest team once a week, PLUS she used to work in the Weavers Way Mt. Airy store. Hannah (almost) never tired of harvesting eggplant this season. She has a way of finding the silver lining in every moment, whether it was harvesting in the cold rain all afternoon, or biking home in the cold and the dark after a full day of work. Hannah- your enthusiasm is an inspiration to me and I always appreciate our conversations in the field about the bigger picture significance of the type of work we are doing.
Nancy- Nancy and I first met when she was doing her co-op shifts at the farm in August of 2011. She told me her story about her connection to Weavers Way and the Mort Brooks farm, and after working with her for only two hours I felt like she had come home to this farm even though she had never been here before.  Nancy and I immediately struck a chord as we talked about being women in the farming world. I remember thinking, “wow, she really knows where I’m coming from.” For the past two years Nancy has been a part of our farm team, and has earned the endearing nick name of “Auntie Nance” (which she may not know about!) because of her amazing ability to listen and remember everything you ever tell her. Nancy, no matter what you are doing, whether it is listening to what I did over the weekend, transplanting herbs, or making a map of the farm, you do it with 150% of your heart. You have been a huge part of what makes this farm feel so emotionally nourishing and supportive to so many people.
Scott- Scott came to the farm late summer 2011 when he responded to a poster in the co-op which read: Weavers Way Farms looking for someone with mechanical skills! We not only gained a handyman who can fix our weed-whackers, but a jack-of-all-trades who can (or at least has us fooled that he can) fix or build anything. Scott is a constant idea generator, from veggie bargain bins, to “Adopt a Row,” to the entire composting project. Scott, you are always there when I need a hand and always willing to lend an ear. Scott is as dedicated as if this was his family farm, and that generosity has gone beyond the vegetable field at Henry Got Crops to the larger Saul community.
Emma- Emma came to interview for the 2013 apprenticeship on a cold rainy day back in February. She was completely unfazed by an interview in our dark, dingy, cold CSA building which looked more like a storage unit that time of year, or a tour of the farm in the pouring rain as the sun was setting. I knew right away she was tough as nails and a perfect fit.  Emma has never once complained and has picked up my spirits on more than one occasion when the work was getting to me. After a 13 hour day when we are delivering produce to the Weavers Way warehouse on a Friday night in October, she will be as happy and motivated as can be. I have never seen Emma tired. Emma would hear me say, “Oh wouldn’t it be great if we had a way to keep track of how many volunteers come to the farm,” or “I wish I had better records of our sales,” and before I knew it she would follow through with something that was just an idea and help actualize it into practice. Emma’s strengths lie in working with volunteers and detailed quality control. No bunch of greens would leave her hands without looking perfect, and no volunteer would leave  without Emma remembering their name and unique strengths and interests that they brought to the farm. Emma carried more than her weight in a particularly demanding season. The one thing that seemed constant this year was the ever changing schedule of people helping on the farm. Emma was my constant rock who helped me keep track of every detail necessary to keep the place functioning and moving forward. Emma, thank you.

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