Room to Grow

I become giddy sometimes when given the opportunity to learn something new. My brain gets into sponge mode, and all I really want to do is soak up new information and then act on it. So last Tuesday, June 21, when our entire staff met for a shared lunch, an open Q&A session, then split into small groups to learn about a topic of choice, I was elated. I grabbed my notebook, a pen, changed my shoes, and headed to the fields toward the chicken coop, ready to learn about how to raise hens. I didn’t even care that I was the nerdy one taking notes - I was happy to be in the open air, learning about measurements of hen houses, laying schedules, and types of feed and protein percentages.

When speaking with Eric, CCF’s Education Program Manager, about the vision behind the workshop, he stated, “We try to create opportunities for the crew to understand the importance of their work in the context of the whole farm operations. These staff enrichment days highlight not only the important diversity of CCF programs and production, but also the diversity and depth of knowledge and experience our full-time employees collectively bring to this organization…We want our crew to be able to increase their knowledge about food and agriculture to benefit them in their personal lives. The goal is for them to become more informed employees, but at the same time, that they may be stronger advocates for food system reform in the community.” As he dropped in on various workshops during the afternoon, he was impressed with the “wisdom, knowledge and the experience of the staff. The commitment to life-long learning is equally as impressive.”

Eric’s impressions of the afternoon were spot-on; it was evident from the energy in the air that we were all glad to be attending a workshop of personal interest, learning something new that could ultimately help us change our communities. The culture here on the farm is one that emphasizes education as a catalyst for action, for which these workshops play a significant role. Here’s what some of our staff had to say about their experiences:

“I attended the Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change workshop headed up by Kate and Will and found the experience to be super informative and totally inspiring! We were all involved in a great exchange of information as the farm managers answered our individual questions about each topic. Working at Cedar Circle Farm this summer has given me an incredible sense of feeling connected to something larger in life. Having been a Chef for most of my professional career, I have wanted, for quite some time, to play a bigger part in fixing our broken food system. Working on the full-season field crew has given me the opportunity through regenerative organic agriculture to play a part in the betterment of peoples’ health and the larger issue of climate change. Now, my hands work the earth in a sustainable manner, and I help grow beautiful food to nourish the body, all the while being educated about the bigger picture to feed my mind.”
-Shawn, Full-season Field Crew

“I chose Nic’s Small Hen Laying Operation workshop because I love eggs, love using them in so much of my baking, and love watching Nic’s beautiful chickens, but I haven’t taken the time to learn much about what goes into the process of raising healthy, happy hens. It gave me a chance to ask questions about raising chickens that I otherwise would have been embarrassed to ask. I also was able to observe the holistic process of a hen laying operation.”
-Mollie, Baking Lead

“I took the Fermentation class with Alison. I thought that fermentation was done to enhance taste, but I learned that it is very beneficial to my diet. Fermentation has more health benefits that I initially thought, which personally makes me more interested in it.”
-Sumner, Summer Production Crew

“I chose the Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change workshop session because of my interest in the environment and how helping it could be addressed from an agricultural standpoint. I was impressed by Will and Kate’s wealth of knowledge and was particularly interested in their recent trip to a conference in Costa Rica and the farms they visited there.”
-Melanie, Farmstand Lead

“I loved Michelle’s Cut Flower and Arranging workshop; she has the ability to make everyone feel comfortable with being creative, even when they don’t have have any experience with flower arrangements. Even though what I envisioned in my mind didn’t translate into what ended up in my hand, it was such a joyful experience. The bounty of choices in the cut flower garden made it so that I couldn’t really go wrong - I felt free to create something beautiful.
-Adie, Kitchen Assistant

Converting old technology to modern day usage is the future of machinery for sustainable agriculture. I chose the Electric Tractor Conversion workshop because battery power is something that greatly interests me as we shift away from fossil fuels. Dave is a bank of knowledge.”
-Al, Processing Area Manager

“Working with Michelle this spring in the greenhouses gave me a greater appreciation of flowers and the care that they require. It was rewarding to watch the little baby plants that I planted grow bigger and flower. One job that I didn’t especially enjoy was taking down the hanging flower baskets and dead-heading them because it made my arms sore. Those baskets can get heavy! I remember one day, Michelle told me that she was the one who put the baskets together and chose which plants would look good with the others. This intrigued me because I had never thought of flower arrangement as an art before, but I didn’t feel like I was capable of creating an arrangement that pretty. When I saw the Cut Flower and Arranging workshop listed, it was easy for me to choose because I am very interested in flowers and flower arrangement and wanted to get an idea of what making arrangements was like.”
*-Gannon, Summer Production Crew *

The sense of value and worth that stems from working as a team is tangible in every corner of our farm - from the office, to the farmstand and greenhouses, to the fields, to the processing area. We’re a farm committed to excellence, so we will continue to seek opportunities to grow in our collective knowledge. We hope you know how dedicated we are to bringing you the highest quality produce and farm education we can provide.


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