2014 apprentices

IMG_20140606_090715926I spent my childhood summers running barefoot in the grass, digging up worms, swimming and catching crayfish in the Upper Delaware River, catching fireflies, and sitting around a fire under the stars with my family. That’s when I fell in love with nature.

Virgil said, “Happy were he who could know the causes of things.” Digging your hands and toes into the cool, moist earth, you quickly get in close touch with the causes of things. In today’s industrial world where people become dependent on gadgets and globalization, it’s far too easy to lose touch with the living roots of human society—the substance from which we draw our existence—that is Mother Nature and her Divine Creator.

The following quote from the Preface to The Outline of Sanity by G.K. Chesterton sums up nicely my beliefs about how things are and how it’s the most basic things in life that are the most important:

“ … Political and social freedom without economic freedom is a cruel illusion. … Economic freedom in the modern world is simply the right to compete with others for a job which provides wages; it is an illusion which can be quickly shattered by the shedding of jobs, corporate restructuring, or budget cuts. In contrast, the man who owns not merely his mortgage paperwork, but his own house and land, who grows his own food, who draws water from his own well, is not so easily treated in such a cavalier fashion. He is always the free man, the man who chooses what, where, when, and how—choices that are frequently less open, if at all, to his wage-earning counterpart who is a slave in all but name. Living among other free men with the same freedom, independence and self-sufficiency, he is confronted with a social fabric that by its very nature demands that he use his freedom with a clear understanding of the needs and rights of his neighbor. […] What man needs is neither an ever-increasing cash flow nor a continually expanding investment portfolio, but rather a society that gives him a chance to procure what he needs for himself and his family, and to use what he procures virtuously.” (excerpt from the Preface to The Outline of Sanity by G.K. Chesterton)

For my own sake and the sake of my neighbors, it is important for me to not only know where my food comes from, but to know that nature is being respected and that resources are not being wasted. It is also a strong desire of mine to invest my own energy into nurturing nature to grow food for myself, for my family and friends, for my neighbors. This piqued my interest in local, sustainable agriculture, especially CSA’s.

Thus, my appreciation for the foundations of the natural order, my Catholic faith, and my Distributist ideals have together brought me to Colchester Farm CSA.

I’m excited to have the opportunity for a hands-on education in small-scale, sustainable farming practices. I want to learn everything I possibly can about nourishing the soil, growing healthy crops, and keeping chickens and dairy goats. I would like to learn more about the business of farm management and farmer’s markets. And I hope to educate myself further on the history, culture, and practical application of sustainable-farm and craftsman based communities.

In my life after this apprenticeship, whether I choose to become closely involved in the inner workings of a CSA or whether I can bring to life my dream of homesteading, I know my time at Colchester will be the perfect groundwork for that future adventure.

Our full season apprentices work and live on the farm between April and November. The apprenticeship is created for individuals interested in gaining hands-on experience in sustainable vegetable production and the marketing of produce through a Community Supported Agriculture project and local farmers’ markets. We have had three full season with us for about a month now, and everyone has settled in nicely. The following three posts (including this one) are written by the apprentices themselves, and will introduce you to each of them. We’re excited to welcome them into our community; keep your eye out for them at our farmers markets and other events. Todays message is from Emily:

Emily checks out a small worm on her thumb, while simultaneously giving her approval with a thumbs up!

Emily checks out a small worm on her thumb, while simultaneously giving her approval with a thumbs up!

Hi y’all, I’m Emily. I am a Maryland native and happy to be back in my home state as an apprentice at Colchester. A lot of people (like my mom) might wonder why a young, educated person such as myself would want to do physical labor for little pay instead of working toward a corner office and a salary. Two previous experiences have led me to pursue a farm apprenticeship.

First, I attended Warren Wilson College, where I heard the word “sustainability” used at least once a day. Sustainability – or the ability to continue for a long time – is a quality that can be used to question the currently accepted methods for food systems, governing systems, social systems. As a student, I was challenged to in some way blaze an unconventional path toward a more sustainable future. After graduating, I went forth with that challenge in mind and had my second experience: I served in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). For ten months, I was a member of a team that completed projects in communities across the southwestern states. The projects introduced me to farming and park work and made me realize that I like working with my hands.

I have no plans to save the world, but I hope that I will come away from this apprenticeship with skills I can use to contribute to endeavors that are both environmentally responsible and concerned with the well-being of all people. I realize that is very vague, but hey I’m a milennial and I’m taking things one step at a time…

While I’m here at Colchester, I hope to learn more about canning and other preservation methods, beekeeping, composting, seasonal eating and farmer’s tans.