The Trail Blazers returned to Douglass Falls and Barefoot Farm earlier this week, and I was fortunate enough to be able to host them at the farm. It was almost an entirely new group of kids this time, but word traveled fast, and as soon as they got off the bus I was bombarded with questions about milking the goat and picking berries. They had obviously heard about what to expect, and were so excited to try it all for themselves. While some Trail Blazers picked blackberries and raspberries, I took others to milk Juno. Hearing squeals of delight when milk finally made it’s way into the bucket made it all worth it. There was a whirlwind of activity on the farm that afternoon. The kids, so full of energy, desirous of everything at once, were truly an amazing presence on the farm. I was sad to see them go, but happy that everyone left with arms full of produce, bellies full of berries, and smiles on their faces. It was another successful farm visit to say the least.
Unfortunately, my summer on the farm is coming rapidly to a close. July has been a busy month, and I have been blessed to be a part of all the action. I know I will cherish the days spent picking (and eating) berries, sweating bullets in the great outdoors, and enjoying each moment of it all. Watching the butternut squash vines take over the entire field as beans, cucumbers and corn are harvested away, battling a jungle of weeds to check on tomatoes and potatoes – it’s life, and it’s beautiful. Since I have been back, the farm has added two of my favorite additions, a kitten and an ice cream maker. My life is now complete, but I have to go. Little kitty Ursa and I have spent many hours cuddling and playing together, and as you can see from the picture, we are a happy pair. The other night the cousins and I made delicious homemade ice cream, made even better because the ingredients, black raspberries and goat milk, came straight from the farm. Fresh, organic food abounds, and I know I will miss not having everything I need to eat right in my own front-yard. I will miss Emily’s amazing cooking, talking with Will, and playing with River. But who knows, if grad school doesn’t work out, maybe I will be back sooner than I think. I’m sure my parents would love it if I gave up dreams of a Master’s degree to become a professional berry picker. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I know that my time here has been worthwhile, and has fostered a greater appreciation of food and earth that I can carry with me wherever I go. Thanks to Barefoot Farm for a wonderful summer. Thank you Earth.
Live Simply, Love Much,
Most of the farm workers in western North Carolina don’t get to eat the produce that they harvest. Instead, their meager wages only allow them to buy cheap, processed, packaged foods.
To help address this inequity, Barefoot Farm is donating all of its produce to Hispanic workers and their families in 2011. Specifically, we’re working with Jill Rios and her husband, Austin, who is a minister at La Capilla Episcopal Church. Members of the Hispanic congregation work in the orchards of Henderson County as farm laborers. Yet many of them do not have access to fresh fruits or vegetables.
In June, Barefoot Farm provided several bushels of butternut squash, corn, and beans to the La Capilla community, thanks to the help of Jill and Austin. In the coming months, our farm will provide tomatoes, greens, summer squash, and more corn and beans, as well as jams and jellies. We’re especially appreciative of the Hispanic community’s hard work in the farms and fields of western North Carolina. They keep our communities fed—and also support extended families across borders—while they sometimes go hungry.
Last week, Barefoot Farm hosted the Trail Blazers Youth Hiking Club at the farm and in the forest. Ten children from the Hillcrest Community hiked to Douglass Falls, a 70-foot waterfall in a grove of ancient forest near the farm. I hiked with the children, who ranged in age from 8 to 14. None of them had ever been hiking in a national forest; most had never left the city. They were stunned to see chipmunks scurrying through the leaves and critters crawling up trees. They marveled at millipedes and the old-growth trees lining the trail, including an overturned hemlock tree with its intricate root system exposed.
Once they reached the falls, the kids boldly ventured across the slippery rocks to stand beneath the frigid, refreshing waterfall, which pounded down on them from 70 feet of free fall. They climbed into an old rock cave and scampered up a steep dirt trail and across an old log. they were adventurers exploring a brave new world, and the excitement shone in their faces.
After playing in the falls all morning, Trail Blazers organizer Nicole Hinebaugh drove the kids down the mountain to our farm, where they picked raspberries and blueberries and green beans—straight from the garden and into their mouths. Each of them also learned how to milk a goat. Juno was especially patient as they pinched and squeezed her teats until a few squirts of milk splattered in the bucket.
The Trail Blazers will be back later this summer. It was magical to see ten children running wildly through the rows of raspberries and trying to catch tadpoles in the pond. That’s what the farm is all about: sharing the outdoors and its bounty.