This past Friday some of us from the LLC went to Arcadia Farm to volunteer for a few hours. It was a small group of us, but I think we got a good amount of work done. We broke up a few rows of soil that sweet potatoes had just been harvested from. The woman we were working with, I can’t remember her name, said that we could keep any potatoes that we found still in the ground while we were digging. Sonam found a REALLY big sweet potato! I hope she made something good out of it; I’ll have to ask her about it. We found many other small potatoes and brought them back with us. I kept a few and cooked them for my roommate. Alright, back to the relevant part of the story. So we broke up the soil to make the rows ready to plant a cover crop for the cold season to put nutrients back in the soil. We were able to plant one row or some kind of radish seed. These radishes are not meant to be harvested, she told us that the greens will be cut down and the radish roots will just be broken up into the soil to decompose and enrich the soil for the next crop that will be planted there.
The farm was smaller than I expected it to be; it was pretty much a big garden, but they had a lot of things planted there. Before we started working she showed us around the different plants they were growing. Much of the space was empty because it is the end of the growing season and they had already harvested some things. I did see what an okra plant looks like for the first time though. There were a few things that they had just for educational purposes because sometimes they show groups of kids around; they had a few cotton plants, some popping corn that they show to the kids, and some chickens. I think she said they had seven chickens. We saw them in a little coop that she said was designed when they had some kind of contest to see who could create the best chicken coop. It was actually pretty cool; it had wheels on one end so you could just lift it and role it to a fresh patch of grass every day for the chickens to scratch for bugs and fertilize a new spot each day. I thought that was an interesting design that is very beneficial for the chickens and allowed the grass to grow back. She also explained to us what they do with the produce from the farm. The whole goal of Arcadia Farm is to provide fresh produce to communities that do not have access or the ability to get fresh foods. They partner with several other farms to provide a wide range of produce as well as milk, eggs, and cheeses. She told us that they renovated an old school bus with refrigerators that they drive to certain places every weekend to sell these fresh foods to communities that need it. They accept foodstamps and other government aid from low income families that probably wouldn’t have the money to buy those kinds of food otherwise.
I think that Arcadia Farm is doing a great thing to educate and provide a local, sustainable food source for the surrounding area. It was a great experience for me to get off campus and help out for a while, and I hope to volunteer there again soon.