New Leaf Organic Farm

The last two weeks I spent driving through Vermont, Montreal and Maine. The first week of it, I worked on an organic farm in Vermont through a program called WWOOF. Some of you may know I have a burgeoning interest in food politics and spending some time on a farm seemed like a logical next step. Also a great way to take a break from my typical work life in front of a computer.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is an international program that has been around since the 1970s. It helps connect volunteers with organic farms around the world, where folks exchange volunteer help on the farm for a place to stay (or camp), food and a lot of learning about organic farming. It’s a great program, and also a great way to travel and learn about farming. I’d recommend it to anyone! You have to get a membership to WWOOF to get their directory of farms, but I’d say it’s worth the $25.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. The farm was on a beautiful stretch of land in rural Vermont, and we stayed in this awesome solar-powered yurt (see slide show above) with beautiful views. The owner of the farm is Jill Kopel, an incredible woman who bought the farm (former dairy farm, as most of VT) nine years ago and is basically a one-woman show. She now has a two year old daughter who she often straps onto her back in a carrier and keeps going with her work. She blew me away.
New Leaf Organic Farm is a organic vegetable and flower farm, so we got to try our hand at harvesting a number of different things–tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, swiss chard, beets, blueberries, cucumbers, the list goes on. Practically any vegetable that grows in VT. What was great about my week there, besides the beautiful scenery, was learning about how all these vegetables grow and seeing a bit of what it takes to grow our food.
I had no idea what a green bean plant looked like, or most of the vegetables I mentioned. I learned about what preparation goes into getting vegetables to the farmer’s market, or a CSA. I learned about the potato and tomato blight, and how weather can seriously affect a farmer’s livelihood. Added bonus that I got to work with an awesome woman entrepreneur and farmer.
After this experience, I’m on board with the food activists who say gardening and farming should be a part of our public education. Even if most of us aren’t going to grow our own food, it would do a lot for us to at least know how it’s done. There has been increasing popularity in school garden projects, and farm to school programs, and I think that’s a great thing.

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