While the heat of summer is still upon us, the days are noticeably growing shorter as Mother Earth quickly approaches the Autumnal Equinox. The garden’s sun worshiping vegetables are already slowing down their production while the cool crisped root vegetables and salad greens regain garden glory. Our youth are already back at school and I am saddened to say that our eight week summer gardening program has finished. There were many lesson learned this growing season as we experienced the many joys and pains that characterize small scale farms everywhere. Some of the issues that we dealt with this summer include having the wonderful dilemma of harvesting over three boxes of cucumbers within a single week. Luckily, our youth have very creative minds and easily tackled that problem using a very tasty solution. Turn the cucumbers into pickles! We also learned the amount of destruction that one little tiny insect is capable of as the deadly “Squash Bug” overtook our pumpkin, zucchini and winter squash plants.
All in all, the youth and I had a great summer cultivating our urban plots here in the WaterFront South neighborhood. Some highlights from the summer include traveling to Detroit to attend the annual Rooted in Community (RIC) Youth Leadership Summit, as well as teaming up with our dedicated Board of Trustees to grill over 150 hot dogs and hamburgers for our neighbors during a Saturday picnic at Joe’s Place. And then lastly, with the help of Raquel Moreno of the Food Bank of South Jersey, the summer culminated into a wonderful Community Luncheon whereby our youth prepared and served up a tasty feast of garden vegetable pizza to over 50+ neighbors.
While these are some of the flashbacks that I personally cherish, the youth told us what their favorite part about working for CFET this summer was. For EcoIntern Chevon Green, it was “learning different ways to eat healthier through cooking.” For Zachiely Cruz, an Assistant Farmer who is responsible for facilitating educational workshops, it was “being able to teach others what I’ve learned and being able to open people’s minds to different things.” As for Ashley Reyes, a three year veteran and graduating Senior Farmer, it was “getting to work with all my friends from last year while also having the opportunity to meet new people at events like RIC.”
Even though summer has ended, the gardens still need tending and seven young farmers have signed on to work with us this fall. We are now refocusing our attention to producing our signature hot sauce, Kapow!, which we hope to debut at the annual Hearts and Hands Festival this October. The Friday Farmer’s Market is also continuing through fall so don’t be shy and please come out and support our youth farmers.
All the best,