Empowering Young Farmers and Humbling the Farmer (and how to design garden beds)

IMG_3615

I received a message wondering if I could use the help of twenty girl scouts.  The farm they were supposed to help out decided they didn’t need volunteers.  Not only can I use volunteers, but I always jump at the opportunity to reach out to kids.  It is staggering to me the minute amount of people who have chosen to grow food and the even smaller amount of women that have opted for this job.  I don’t remember in school it even being an option.  I was told I could be anything I want, a stay at home mom, a doctor, a lawyer, a nun, but never was the word farmer uttered.

IMG_0855

I think it is so important to show kids that living simply and farming is indeed a real career and lifestyle choice.  So I stood there thinking of all the ways I would inspire and encourage troop 2251 to do great things as they pulled in.  My breath caught and tears threatened to come.  Two cars of smiling girls were followed by a truck and trailer.  Stacked a top that trailer were twenty bales of straw for mulch and twenty bags of organic potting soil.  They had raised money to help out a farm.  What a blessing, what a group of angels that descended on our humble farm!

IMG_3616

IMG_0853

I welcomed them to Pumpkin Hollow Farm and told them a bit about our simple lifestyle.  I introduced them to the animals.  They swooned over the baby lambs and my granddaughter, Maryjane.  They looked for all the kittens in the house and I showed them the wood cook stove.  We then set off to work.  We had a daunting task, turn the barren patch of dirt that was once a thriving garden at one time into a ready-to-plant plot.

IMG_3619

IMG_3618

IMG_0850

IMG_0851

We gathered all the cardboard boxes that I had thrown in there over the winter, flattened them, and laid them beneath the paths.  I explained how we would make a one foot path, then a four foot bed, and repeat that all the way across.  They didn’t have to be straight beds.  Gardening is art, I told them, so they could make the beds wavy like little rivers, or use interesting items to line the path.

IMG_0852

IMG_3621

IMG_3617

IMG_3622

IMG_3620

The girl scout leaders, the girls, and I worked diligently under the first hot day of spring to create a masterpiece.  We brought over loads of bricks from the side of the outbuildings and made wavy streams of paths.  Discarded wood and branches lined the way.  I dared the girls to find the most creative piece to line the beds with.  My Christmas three that the goats stripped clean now lines of the beds!

IMG_3627

IMG_3623

IMG_0857

We had lunch beneath the pine trees and took in the views.  The little girls took turns carrying Maryjane around.  She has been in heaven this week with so many kids around.

IMG_0854

IMG_0859

IMG_3629

IMG_3628

We then laid the twenty bales of straw thickly onto the planting beds.  All I need to do is lay a thick layer of wood chips on the paths and place stepping stones at strategic places across the beds to get across easily.  This plot will feed many, many people.  I am ever so grateful for their help.

IMG_3630

They taught me about generosity and hard work.  They helped a farmer that they didn’t even know.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. juliepullum says:

    How wonderful! We have a group here called The Young Farmers Federation, they take boys and girls from the age of 10-16, we think (Charlie is advising) and they are called Countrysiders, the 16-26 year olds are then mentors for the youngsters and run the groups and they are ‘Young Farmers’, these children come from all walks of life but obviously farmers encourage their children to go along too. I was one, my daughter Charlie was still involved into her late teens. They get involved inall kinds of agricultural pursuits its hands on from dairy to arable farming and back again! We have to encourage the youngsters as so many small farms have no one to take them over. so well done you. You and the girls and of course Maryjane look as if you had an enjoyable day.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      That sounds like an amazing program!

  2. debweeks says:

    The FFA (Future Farmers of America) is huge here in Illinois. High schools across the state have FFA clubs as well as agriculture classes. Of course a big problem (for me at least) is that kids are taught the ways of farming which isn’t very organic at all.

    I also use cardboard in my garden. Every time hubby mows, I have him collect the grass and put it in between the rows and around the plants. We don’t spray chemicals on our lawn, so it’s clean fresh grass that is an excellent weed barrier and gives me a nice soft path to walk on between the rows.

    With that said, I need to get busy in the garden. There are lots of root vegetables to be planted.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      That is a great idea with the grass. I am so glad spring as arrived!

  3. platyzoa says:

    This is awesome on many levels. Hopefully a few of these girls will have fallen in love with the idea of farming because you’re so right.. I grew up on a farm and still the idea that I myself could farm was never even suggested. I was meant to go to school and do something else. Thanks for doing this great work so that future generations might have a chance at being able to feed themselves sustainably 🙂

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I hope even one of them was inspired to live more simply and sustainably when they grow up. This is a fun way to live!

  4. LifesBelle says:

    Great work!!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Those girls did do great work. I hope they can come back out and see all the food growing in the beds they created!

  5. permiechick says:

    That’s so wonderful, for both the girls and your farm. It’s fantastic for them to have had an opportunity to experience a different lifestyle

    1. Farmgirl says:

      We had a great time! I think they are coming back to help put in the pumpkin patch too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s