Friday, June 8, 2012

Volunteering on an Organic Farm

I think this is Kale =)
Mary working on a row of kale (?)
Hilary dropping kale starts
Tommie and Hilary dropping starts

Last weekend my department organized a volunteering trip to an organic non-profit farm called Clean Greens northeast of Seattle. We helped plant broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and lettuce. That is, after the torrential downpour stopped. Seriously, soon after we arrived it started to rain. And then it rained harder. And harder. I came relatively prepared with rubber boots, lightweight rain pants, a rain coat, and gloves, but I was wishing I had brought my Grundens! We all huddled under a little roof off the barn for about 20 minutes waiting for the rain to let up. The farm manager told us that they never work in rain that hard. I'm glad it did let up though because after driving an hour outside of Seattle, I wanted to plant some organic veggies! By the afternoon, it was actually sunny and hot (for my Alaskan standards).

Planting the last of the lettuce
Kathy and Kalani dropping lettuce starts
Clean Greens is a pretty awesome organization. It sounds like they rely on a lot of volunteer labor in order to provide affordable fresh organic produce to families in the inner city who might not otherwise be able to afford it. The farm manager, Tommie, and the other farm employees were very generous with their knowledge of organic farming and extremely patient with us our clumsy planting techniques, even though Tommie told us that "Mother nature is very resilient."

Many of us are planning to volunteer again later this summer. Besides having a great time, Tommie told us that if we volunteer when the garden is producing, we can take fresh veggies home with us - this is great news for a canner! And when I asked about their abundance of blackberry bushes, he said I was welcome to come back to pick berries too.

And, as if they weren't nice enough, Tommie offered us as many free starts as we wanted when we left. I took a couple of tomato plants, broccoli, leeks, chard and squash. I put them in pots on my back porch. Here's to hoping at least some of them survive the two months I'll be in Alaska!

Mary with all the starts she took home

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