Flowers and Showers

Summer is in full swing and we are staying busy with weeding, harvesting, mulching, and more! Our classes go from every two weeks to every week which keeps us on our toes. So far this summer we have learned about chickens, rain barrels, raised beds, working a farmers market, and more! Next week we have someone talking to our class about bees and we have full bee suits that students can wear when we visit the hives we have here at the farm.
                                     

You got how much rain?!          

On Tuesday June 26th, we got an unprecedented 2.79 inches of rain here in Greeneville, TN. According to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s rain gauge located just a few miles away at the Nolichucky Dam, we received 5.45 inches total rainfall during the month of June. Over half of our monthly rainfall in June came in that one day. WOW! Unfortunately we are still playing catch up with all the weeds.

                                                                       

Our cucumbers, malabar spinach, basil, flowers and more are coming in beautifully so far, while our squash and tomatoes have been a bit slower to blossom this summer. The flowers are bringing lots of fun pollinators to the farm. One of our recent volunteers said she had lost count of how many butterflies she had seen.

Due to so much rainfall in such quick succession we remain worried about our tomatoes. Tomatoes do not like to be handled when they are wet and can occasionally get overwatered if you are not careful! We are hoping to prevent as many diseases as possible. We have tried to create a lot of air flow and room through spacing, heavy mulching, and the classic “Florida Weave.” I have typically used the “sandwich” style of stringing tomatoes so we’ll see which one I like better after this summer!


                           

Summer Adventures                           

On the last Saturday of June, we emerged from those stormy skies, harvested a bunch of produce and headed to market with our teens! We took some pork, flowers, cucumbers, onions, malabar spinach, and garlic. Our teens were tasked with organizing a garden demo at the Greeneville Farmers Market. The teens chose the topic, Strawberry Buckets and Herb Planters.

                                               

Earlier this year, our teens made strawberry buckets so they decided to bring them to market and show customers how far their buckets had come. The teens made decisions regarding interacting with customers and presenting the information. During our scheduled classes, they organized and created informational posters while practicing their speaking skills. There is nothing like role playing to liven up a Wednesday morning! Once we got there, the teens set up our market tables, arranged the display, and we got to work.

                                                                  

Interacting with customers, handling money, and understanding the ins and outs of what it looks like for farmers to work markets on a regular basis were all aspects that our teens learned from at market. The teens had a great day interacting with one another and we ended the day with a fun and delicious lunch together.

                                                              

Seed to Table Class

This morning our teens had a “Seed to Table” class. We planted beans coated with inoculant in furrows. We still have flower transplants on the farm and tried to finish planting them up in order to further encourage pollinators on the farm. The flower transplants were rootbound so we trimmed the bottoms to encourage root growth in the soil.

                                  

After watering in our beans and flowers, we hopped over to finish digging out all our potatoes. The teens really enjoyed finding lots of potatoes, this year we planted 3-4 varieties so we had some pretty colorful ‘taters! We ended up with around two five gallon buckets! We just have to weight them so we know our final totals. The teens will be excited to take potatoes home and cook them with their families.

             

The flowers are bringing lots of fun pollinators to the farm. One of our recent volunteers said she had lost count of how many butterflies she had seen.

Following our tater harvest, we washed our hands and went over food safety and harvesting. We harvested basil and sungold tomatoes for a snack. The teens cut up the tomatoes, broke up the basil, and added lemon, salt, and pepper. We finished our snack off with some rosemary crackers for a delicious snack. After getting seconds, one teen said, “I have never liked tomatoes, but this is really delicious.” We are excited for more summer snack discoveries in the coming weeks!

Last But Not Least

Our awesome youth intern, Cheyenne, has been working with us this summer. She is a graduate of our Food and Farm Teen Training program and has been a model intern. She has shown both patience and a great sense of humor when working with volunteers. Cheyenne works hard and remains flexible whether it is working farmers market, processing garlic, or digging potatoes. We are happy to have her on board and we look forward to finishing up the summer together!

Until next time, we hope all of your farms and gardens are growing strong!

          

About the Author:

I am from a farming community in Indiana where my family farmed over 200 acres. As a teen, my family moved to Florida where I became heavily involved in 4-H and developed a love for service and passing knowledge onto others. I graduated and began working at the local girls club while attending college for a Business/Administration degree. I realized that teaching youth was my passion and stayed at the girls club for 12 years before moving to East Tennessee. In East Tennessee I was able to reconnect with my farming roots and began a home garden. In growing, I tapped further into my roots and began canning and freezing food for my family. Really enjoying putting to use all the long hours working on the farm in my youth and realizing how important that was for me to learn, I wanted to get back into teaching youth again! Skimming help wanted adds, led me to Rural Resources who was looking for a coordinator to run their Farm and Food Teen Training Program. All my loves in one - youth at-risk, farming, gardening, cooking, and business planning! What a wonderful life to share my passions with others, play on the farm, enjoy local home cooked food, and advance these youth to a better future! Here I have been for 6 beautiful, happy, and productive years!

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