Back-to-school commercials are on full rotation, stores are putting out their fall displays and that glorious two and half month period known as summer vacation is almost over.
Some Common Ground students aren’t feeling the summer vacation’s over pain as much because they’ve spent the summer here working on various crews. From working on site maintenance, to harvesting veggies on the farm, to learning how to cook pulled pork and bake cookies, CG students have made the most of their summer vacation. Students like Kyle Lewis wouldn’t want to spend their summer any other way .
“I don’t like sitting around at home during the summer,” he said. “I like being busy.”
Students learned and got paid, too! Each student on the farm, kitchen and site crew got paid for their service. Stephen Stanley, who worked on the farm crew, said it was an awesome summer gig.
“It’s a challenge, we get dirty but it’s still pretty fun,” Stanley said.
Stanley said working on farm crew, and going to Common Ground, has led to him change his diet and eat healthier food.
“I’ve started eating healthier ever since I’ve come to Common Ground,” Stanley said. “I never really liked fruits and vegetables like that until high school.”
While the farm crew learned seeding, planting and harvesting, the site crew was hard at work building a shed for their tools. The shed is the first of its kind for Schoolyards, big enough to comfortably fit a few people inside and equipped with two windows and a roof. Suzannah Holsenbeck, the Schoolyards Manager, led the crew and said they were ready to get to work.
“This crew is great, (the crew is) recently graduated Common Ground students. It’s a lean crew, but it’s a fierce crew,” Holsenbeck said. “We get the job done and we have a lot of fun while we’re doing it.”
Even when circumstances make fun a bit more challenging than it usually is, according to Class of 2018 graduate Brian Chantre
“This shed came with three panels that weren’t matching with the rest of them so that was a pain in the butt to install,” Chantre said. “We made it work.”
Chantre is off to Roger Williams University to study marine biology next month and spent the last few years working on the site crew.
“It’s made me a hard worker and shown me a good work ethic, because I didn’t really have one before coming here,” Chantre said.
Lewis has big plans, too, much like Chantre. He said he wants to go to culinary school. He said learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business from CG Harvest Kitchen chefs Theresa Brooks and Fathiya Williams is helping to mold his future.
“I love cooking,” Lewis said. “I like cooking here because it gives me learning experience. Even though Ms. Thea is a hard worker, she pushes me and I like it because I want to go to culinary school after I graduate and she’s preparing me to make sure I know everything I need to know for culinary school.”
Tyron Knight is building his resume, too. He graduates in 2020, and has been working on the farm crew since his freshman year.
“I get to help people, deliver vegetables and I get work experience,” Knight said.
All the crews are able to touch lives, both on and off our campus. Schoolyards/Site Crew team member Christopher Giabor said knowing they’re making an impact is most rewarding, even if it takes a while for the seeds to bloom.
“There was a school in the area where I was born and raised,” Giabor said. “It’s in Fairhaven. Two years ago, Farm Crew in the summer, who had worked with Schoolyards, we put some plants in and some tree sprouts and this year we went back and just seeing how those plants I planted two years ago are growing and the kids are using it, it’s just really nice.”