“I learned that farming takes a lot of patience and perseverance…But living on a farm could be fun for anyone.”—Joselia Souza; MATCH High School Student, Boston, MA
Recently Groundswell was lucky enough to receive many helping hands from a group of awesome high school students to build the deer fence at the Groundswell Incubator Farm. Visiting all the way from the MATCH Charter School in Boston, Massachusetts, these students were in town to experience a bit of what Ithaca’s college-scene has to offer, but they also spent much of their trip volunteering with some of the local community organizations. For many of these students there are few opportunities to experience careers and lifestyles outside of the city, so we were thrilled to share a little bit of agriculture from the Town of Ithaca, and get some fence posts installed at the same time. When I first met the students as they were getting off the bus, I think many of them were a bit skeptical about the muddy farmer who was walking up to meet them. Although most of them had been on farms before, they were all dressed to the level of fashion that most everyone does in high school. Fortunately they were all extremely kind about my own messy-farmer fashion, but as they toured the farms at EcoVillage I could tell they were hesitantly-curious about what kind of work they had agreed to do.…
When we got to the Incubator Farm, the holes for the fence posts had already been dug, but our job was to level and set each post in its place by tamping the dirt around it. For the corner-posts, we had to attach wood “feet” to the bottoms of the posts, and then pour concrete around them for added stability. I can tell you that this Work Party immediately became a success when we started to use the tools, because as each student took a turn at screwing in the wood “feet” or at slamming the tamping bar down into the hole—everyone else was watching with collective support and excitement! As we got more into working, their characters really came out and we all had a GREAT time. As one student said, ““When we first got there, I was not at all happy. But by the end I was pounding dirt using a hammer with a smile on my face. I felt like I did something that day.”—Sidney McCauley*
The best part about the Work Party was that we saw their excitement around getting something physical done, which feels very different than working on a computer or in a classroom. For many farmers, working with your hands and the earth’s tools: soil, wood, metal—is the most rewarding part of a farming-lifestyle. It was clear that some of students picked up on this and I am so grateful that we were able to impart a sliver of this joy before they went back to their high school lives. Big Shout-Out to our friends in Boston! Thank you for all your hard work, and we hope you come back again next year!
Other quotes from MATCH students:
“It was really cool to see how much work goes into building part of a farm.”—Janel Williams*
“Learning how to build a fence together and the experience as a whole made us closer, and it was fun.”—Kerry Sonia*
Janel, Kerry, and Sidney are all Students at MATCH High School in Boston, Massachusetts. MATCH is a Charter School focused on preparing low-income students for success in four-year colleges and are innovative and strive to find unique solutions to whatever issue may arise. Please find out more about MATCH, here http://matcheducation.org/match-schools.
Welcome to Groundswell
Groundswell’s mission is to help youth and adult learners develop the skills and knowledge they need to build sustainable local food systems. Our focus is providing hands-on, experiential learning opportunities with real working farms and food businesses in the Ithaca area. Through collaboration with area schools, colleges and universities, Groundswell offers programs of study for beginning farmers, students, community members, and professionals.
Groundswell is an initiative of the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education in Ithaca, NY, which is a project of the Center for Transformative Action. Visit the Groundswell website to learn more about our programs, initiatives and resources.