Last Saturday I spent the afternoon working on a farm, and it was such a great experience. I’m a part of a community service club on campus and we planned an afternoon for students to get together and help on local farms. Students went to three different farms and spent the afternoon helping out farmers, doing assorted tasks such as pulling weeds, building chicken coops, and shoveling compost. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera, because I was worried it would be a big hassle, or that I would accidentally drop it in a pile of animal poop, things like that tend to happen to me.
My group spent the afternoon at the Farm at Mollie’s Branch in Todd, NC. Mollie’s Branch is such a cool little farm. They grow a variety of items and have lots of animals (even llamas!). Currently they are growing mint, thyme, nettles, hops, shiitake mushrooms and free range eggs. They grow their produce using organic practices (but they’re currently not certified organic). Animal-wise I saw llamas(!), sheep, pigs, chickens, goats, a 300 lb pot belly pig and dogs! I chose this farm to go to because I was told the had llamas, I’m not kidding, llamas are awesome.
Our group split into several smaller groups and worked on various chores, rotating between them. I started out working on building a chicken coop. I got to whip out my (non-existant) carpentry skills and nail together the base of the chicken coop. I only hammered my finger once which I consider a big accomplishment, some serious improvement from the last time I picked up a hammer. One thing I really appreciate about this farm is that once the chickens can no longer produce eggs, they let them live out the rest of their lives on the farm and use their poo for fertilizer. Even though I still eat eggs, I’m really cautious about where they come from, I know the egg industry can be very cruel to chickens and I try to get eggs that are as humanely raised as possible and I am glad to see a farm that treats their animals so well (and one of the owners is a vegetarian too!).
After some quality time with a hammer and nail, we rotated to shoveling compost. Exciting stuff. The whole time I was just freaked out that I was going to behead an earthworm with a shovel. Is that a thing normal people worried about? I’m a huge sap. We then collected leaves and sticks to place over the compost. Chores like this really made me appreciate how hard farmers work to produce food for us. We really take for granted being able to drive to the grocery store and buy food and rarely think about all the hard work that goes into producing it.
When we finished these tasks, the owners showed us around the property. One of the coolest things about Mollie’s Branch is that they try to be as self-sufficient and environmentally friendly as possible. The house on the farm is completely powered by hydroelectricity. A stream runs through the land and they use the movement of the water to produce energy (the technology was actually built by App students!). I love that they use the land as much as possible, but work to leave it in good condition.
Overall this was an awesome experience. You should definitely spend an afternoon working on a farm if you are ever given the opportunity. It gives you a great appreciation for farmers, the importance of locally grown food and sustainable farming. We take a lot of our food for granted, we rarely think about where it comes because we don’t have too. Most people haven’t ever had to hunt, scavenge or grow their own food, we just know we can drive to the grocery store and pick up what we need. We are so lucky to have that convenience and shouldn’t take it for granted.
Moral of the story? Go to the Farmer’s Market!