Writing this update towards the end of March 2020 certainly feels a million times different than it would have just two weeks ago! Two weeks ago as we headed into what is now considered to be the last week of the in-person school year, we had a hunch that school might be out for a period of time. Thankfully, we were blessed with gorgeous weather and the students buckled down and got to work turning over beds, prepping for spring crops and seeding tray after tray of thousands of seeds.
When we said goodbye on that last Friday, our small farm was in the best shape it had been in by this time of year. The hoop house was full of spinach, carrots, kale, lettuce, onions and a long row of seedling trays waiting for their turn to be planted in the field. In addition to the hoop house, 70% of our outdoor beds had been planted with more greens, beets, peas, and flowers. Two long beds of trenches had been dug to prepare for potatoes and the irrigation was all set up and ready to go. I literally could not have been more proud of the hard work our students put in!
Before starting all of this Spring preparation, we looked back over our data and realized that during the last growing season, we had harvested over 750 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables and over 100 dozen fresh eggs from our farm that went to students and families around the Charlottesville area. The students all agreed that we could do more this year and made a goal to push harder and grow 2000 pounds of food and develop a stronger plan for distributing our produce!
As we head into this new normal of Zoom meetings, we will have to see how we can still work to meet our goal of growing a ton of food, but the Urban Farming students have certainly gotten us on the right track! Moving forward, we have planted potatoes, onions, greens and other crops that are relatively low maintenance this time of year. This is allowing the garden to be cared for mostly by myself and a very small group of volunteers to help us stay within the recommended guidelines of social distancing. As the growing season progresses, we will make adjustments to the plan as it seems appropriate.
This is a heart-breaking way to finish the school year for all of us, especially since we didn’t really have a chance for proper goodbyes and closure for the year. Big projects we had in the works (collaborating with the engineering classes on building a wind turbine, building a refrigerated trailer for produce storage, and raising a new batch of baby chicks) are being put on hold for the time being as we try to figure out what the rest of the school year holds.
One thing I am excited about for the next weeks, though, is that I will be featuring student takeovers on our instagram account (@chsfarming). During the winter, students took pictures and wrote about their favorite parts of the garden. We featured some, but didn’t have time to publish them all. I’m excited to share these stories so that we can stay reminded of why we do the work we do by seeing our students in the garden! I hope you’ll follow along and be encouraged by these posts.
Stay well and be encouraged that Spring is here in all of its beauty!