Volunteering At Fair Weather Farm
I volunteered with a classmate at Fair Weather Farm in Fairhill, Maryland. Fair Weather Farm is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, so the farm is heavily invested in interacting with the community around it. I volunteered on Earth Day to help teach visiting children about recycling and sustainability practices, and how important it is to get started now.
Since it was a rainy Earth Day (Good for the crops! Not so good for an event outside.), we didn’t get as many kids visiting as the farm would have liked. Despite the weather, there was a small crowd that day. The kids and their family started off by watching the farm’s Gotland Sheep get sheared. It was amazing to watch the beginning of the process of wool turning into yarn- something we take for granted since we can just go to a craft store and buy yarn already dyed.
Some kids that came by played a game where they had to stick materials to the proper labelled area on the board: cans in the metal recycling area, newspapers in the paper, etc.
We talked about the different things you can recycle, and how you can reuse things you wouldn’t think to reuse. Like making a project out of turning your empty plastic bottle of water into a container for succulents to thrive. We also showed examples of composting and how useful a compost pile can be to prevent waste and help the environment. Many children were interested in the crafts and boards at each display. It was fun to interact with them and teach them new things about being sustainable. We also helped the farm with a few chores, like labelling packages of seeds meant for their CSA members and visitors to Earth Day.
We didn’t get to see all of the farm that day because of our volunteering work, but Fair Weather also keeps bees and chickens, and grows many different vegetables. It’s a perfect example of all the perks of eating locally grown food, and supporting the people who help grow that food. Katherine Martinko’s post on Treehugger.com, “10 Reasons To Eat As Much Local Food As You Can”, touches on even more reasons why being a part of a CSA program with a local farm can benefit all kinds of things, like boosting the local economy, reducing our carbon footprint by cutting down on food transport, and getting food that won’t spoil as quickly as well as being more nutritious.
Local farms, and community gardens, can also be a huge support in food deserts. Food deserts, as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture, are “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.”
Projects like urban gardens can vastly improve access to fresh food in food deserts, along with the other benefits of local food mentioned above. It also has benefits that Jason Derry discusses in his paper “Seeds of change: Planting gardens as biopolitical emancipation” published on the International Environmental Communication Association’s database. “Simply put, planting a garden improves community aesthetic, makes the community feel better, and more importantly, planting a community garden alters states of being.” This kind of community building cannot be overlooked when discussing local farms.
A local farm or garden is more than just a place to get food. It’s a place to interact with your community, and contribute towards a larger impact than what you think planting “just planting a few seeds” can do. Spending time at Fair Weather Farm opened my eyes to how my contributions could have a direct impact on so many things. Consider volunteering in your area, and watch how your contributions affects the environment, the community, and yourself!
10 Reasons To Eat As Much Local Food As You Can by: Katherine Martinko
Seeds of change: Planting gardens as biopolitical emancipation by: Jason Derry