My Experiences at Everdale Organic Farm: Part 2 – Everdale’s History and a farmer’s daily routine
I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!
I am continuing to reflect on my experiences volunteering at Everdale farm for a week.
Now that you have had a brief tour around Everdale farm (see my previous post at My Experience at Everdale Organic Farm: Part 1 – The Farm Tour), let me tell you more about it’s history.
In the late 60s and early 70s, Everdale was a free school which means that the curriculum or financial state was not controlled by the government or external institutions. Teachers were not required to have previous experience with teaching and both students and teachers lived communally on the land. They emphasized a different way of learning, to try to fill the gap that the public schooling system was missing with more integrated learning. Students were not required to complete their high school diplomas (but assistance was provided if they did wish to obtain their diplomas).
From the 1970s to the 1990s, the property was used for multiple purposes including attempts to set up a a post-school commune, a Buddhist monastery, an outdoor education center partnered with a school board and a bread-making business (although some of these are just rumor, so use your imagination). In 1997, Everdale is established as a learning farm, and the soil is prepared for farming. The land is transferred to Everdale, on condition that the farm establish and maintain learning programs where students, children and adults could have an opportunity to learn more about the different aspects of a farming business. Everdale is a registered non-for profit that produces healthy organic food, but also educates potential farmers, the public and city folk on food production.
If you want more information, click here and here for an excellent article detailing the history of Everdale farm. Here is a neat book talking more about Everdale’s free school. I used these articles as sources for my post today.
Now, back to a farmer’s daily routine at Everdale:
The farmer’s work week goes from Tuesday to Saturday. This time of the year work begins at 6:30am and goes until 11:30am. During that time, harvesting is the main priority. Since the morning dew is still on the ground, it is the best time to harvest vegetables so that they can be sent to be washed and processed before it gets too hot outside. Once harvested, most veggies including leaf greens should be immersed into cold water to be hydro-cooled so that they remain at their peak of freshness (and to add an extra day to their shelf life).
After harvesting the veggies, they are sent to be processed in the “Belly”, a building where vegetables are hydro-cooled (soaked in cold water for 8 minutes to better preserve them), and inventory is taken. Afterwards, the veggies are allocated to be sold at one of three farmers markets, the community supported agriculture (CSA) program or wholesale customers. The produce is stored in a large cooler in different piles, depending on the final destination.
Typically, by this time a lunch break is scheduled and the farmers alternate each day making lunch. If the farmer is on lunch duty, they leave the field two hours before in order to start preparations. I will speak more about the food I ate at the farm in a later post, but it was amazing the talent that these farmers had in the kitchen!
After lunch, the afternoon is spent doing various tasks around the farm including weeding, planting new seeds in the greenhouse and maintaining and harvesting the vegetables in the greenhouse like the cucumbers and tomatoes.
Work continues until 4:30pm, after which everyone parts ways and continues the day with their own tasks. On the farm, each farmer has their own projects they work on. There is a group garden that is used to experiment with growing different and unique vegetables like peanuts, okra and ginger, an apiary where one farmer tends to the bees for honey, a compost bin for creating organic manure, and a building project, where a young individual is expanding the boardwalk through Everdale’s beautiful forested area.
That’s enough for today; next time I will talk more about the food I enjoyed during my stay at Everdale as well as more about special projects at Everdale excluding the daily routine activities.
Have a great week!