By Shannon Raider-Ginsburg
Farm Manager & Director of Agricultural Programs

The Common Ground Farm is a dynamic place. All farms are. But our farm embodies this character ever so deeply due to our educational imperative. Normally a message from a farm in October would be about the fall, how things are slowing down, wrapping up, and getting ready to rest.

The fall farm crew prepares the ground in the high tunnel on our farm.

The fall farm crew prepares the ground in the high tunnel on our farm.

The reality is that the fall at Common Ground is a beginning!

The beginning of school, school programs, field trips, green job corps, farm crew, and so much more… And like a rip tide, the ebb of the relatively slowing agricultural work is forced against the strong flow of educational programs. We farmers could get caught in that rip tide, but we’ve opted to go with the flow as much as we can to help create a farm that gives in many directions.

Let’s face it: farmers are tired after the packed agenda of growing food since April warmed the soil. Stealing some quiet moments alone in the field is energizing.

There is the secret raspberry plant that never disappoints us with a juicy treat; the monarch butterfly delicately alighted on the marigolds; the discovery of strange new mushrooms and fungi quietly residing under the kale.

I personally need those quiet moments to recharge for the ambitious commitment of inspiring our next generation. Granting myself these moments allows me to effect change in the youth— to teach them to savor a juicy bite of fruit straight from the plant, to notice the bees and butterflies, and to respect the quietly growing worms and decaying cycles of life.

Students pack up produce harvested at Common Ground for the Farm Share program available to students and their families.

Students pack up produce harvested at Common Ground for the Farm Share program available to students and their families.

Our farm is more than a beautiful place to grow wonderful food. Our farmers and farm are involved in

  • harvesting for a demanding Mobile Market;
  • our ever-growing Garden Share Program;
  • providing for our school kitchen and our farm stand;
  • raising baby chicks and nurturing our hens with the Environmental Ventures after-school business;
  • getting lots of farm work done with this season’s student Farm Crew;
  • teaching Spanish, French, and Ecology as we pick beans and tomatoes;
  • utilizing Math, Biology, and Art to understand and appreciate growing food….

Whew! Fall is hardly a slowing time on the farm.

I look forward to sharing some December musings with you once the farm fits in a box of seeds, the work of the soil is all on a spreadsheet, and the students give the garden a rest.