My Experience at Everdale Organic Farm: Part 1 – The Farm Tour
This past week I decided to submerse myself in the life of an organic farmer. If you know me, you know that I love to spend my weekends at the farmers markets, speaking to farmers in order to better understand where my food comes from and buying local food in order to support hard working farmers and our local economy. What better experience to understand our local food system that to volunteer at an organic farm for a week, right?
So, I signed up as a volunteer at Everdale farm for a week. This means that I lived on a organic farm and worked a full 50 hour week. As a volunteer I got all the fresh, local food I could eat as well as accommodation in the form of a tent spot and common amenities on the farm that I could share with the staff. Before I get into the schedule, and tasks that I completed during the week, I wanted to give you a quick tour of the farm.
When you drive into the farm, this is the first building you see from the parking lot (see below). Inside you will find the farm store, which is open on Thursday and Saturday to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members, a roundhouse where you can sit and relax, a kitchen and the stables, where the farm staff hang out. For those that don’t know what a CSA is, it is like buying a subscription to a TV station, except instead of a channel, you get a box of veggies every week (you choose what kind!) and you can choose to subscribe once every season (fall, winter, and summer). For more information about their CSA program, check out my previous blog post!
You will also find the welcoming crew there; 4 egg laying chickens that are the friendliest and most curious creatures of all the farm. They love meeting new people, and have a particular fascination with shoes and pecking at them, which is very cute! During the day, you can find them around the main building of the farm and in the afternoon, they cool themselves off in the dirt!
Another set of fury friends that I met at the farm were the sheep. They are funny little creatures as they bleet in weird and wonderful ways (some are soprano, some are baritone, and others just rude sounding) The sheep are in pasture land which rotates every 2-3 weeks (so they get fresh grass and let the grass on the other pasture to re-grow). An electric fence around them prevents predators from getting in at night as well. The chickens also live with the sheep and you can find them grazing together (and I am told that sometimes the chickens even sleep on top of the sheep!).
Next, we have the meat chickens. These big boys can be found mainly at the chicken gym pumping grain and squatting to find the best insects around. They are built a lot bigger than the egg-laying chickens because they are raised for meat production. You can see the large breasts and meaty thighs these ‘olympic’ chickens carry around.
Now that I have introduced you to my new furry friends, let’s talk about veggies!
Firstly, there is a large greenhouse in which you can find lots and lots of organic tomatoes! Purple, red and orange in color and ranging in size from a grape to the size of a baseball! In August (the most productive month), Everdale farmers and staff harvest 80-90 pounds of these tomatoes every two days.
Everdale also has approximately 10 acres of land where they grow organic vegetables like lettuce, kale, swiss chard, summer and winter squash as well as beets, cucumbers and carrots. They rotate their fields every year, which means they give the ground a chance to replenish its nutrients through cover crops.
So there’s a quick overview of the farm.
Next time, I will tell you more about Everdale and their history as well as my daily routine working as a farmer. I will tell you some of my tasks as well as answer the big question: What does a farmer eat?
Till next time!