Farm Notes, by Dana Gentile, Greenwood Heights CSA Member

Living in the city I am removed from seeing how my food is grown and raised. With restaurants on every block I found myself not even making my own meals on a daily basis. I helped organize the Greenwood Heights CSA to be able to eat locally and support small farms with my community. Being part of a CSA has given me an understanding of where the food I eat is produced and how to eat with the seasons.

Last week I took a vacation from my eight-hour desk job and left the city for fresh air. I didn’t take a typical vacation that includes a beach or highly tourist community. Instead I took a vacation to volunteer on Hearty Roots Farm and Awesome Farm. I spent my days collecting eggs, herding sheep, weeding, harvesting, weighing, counting, and sorting the vegetables that arrive at distributions sites in Williamsburg, Greenwood Heights, Bay Ridge, Woodstock, and Tivoli. I worked all week next to the farmers that make our local source of vegetables and protein possible. This time spent out of the city and on a farm put me in touch with nature and helped me understand how farms work especially when they are serving local CSA’s. The people who grow our food are kind to the earth by using organic practices. They are constantly learning and improving their methods to be as productive as possible to provide us with the quality we desire yet they are completely aware of not abusing the land.

The farm workdays are long but there is group lunch that splits the day in half. One person from the farm leaves a little early to cook a delicious home cooked meal that the entire group shares in that person’s home. As we sit around a long dining table together, we talked about the challenges of the day, what the afternoon would bring and current politics. When we return to the afternoon duties, we are refreshed from the homemade lunch and eager to get back to work. As I began to weed tiny carrot plants in the afternoon sun, I looked closely at the small green carrot tops trying to separate them from the other green plants that grow around them. The fields are quiet and peaceful as we partake in conversations as we weed together. Hearty Roots Farm has an electric tractor that is even quieter than our conversations in the fields. This piece of farm machinery was not disruptive at all, which was most surprising.

As I spent the week getting to know the farmers during my volunteer vacation I began to think how important it is to see the farm in action. I’ve attended the last garlic harvest day as a way to be active in the CSA and to contribute to the production of our harvest while giving back to the land and farmers. Working in the fields gives a new appreciation to the food we eat. I saw first hand how our food is grown and the amount of physical work that is involved each day. Hearty Roots Farm and Awesome Farm greatly inspire me and I feel appreciative to have learned from them. These are young hardworking farmers that spend their days making food that feed our communities.

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