Monday, August 29, 2016

They Grow Up So Fast

The chicks had their first day in the big yard with the big chickens last week!

They grow up so fast...

Our peppers are finally coming on really well, which is a relief after the tomatoes didn't do as well as we'd like.  They were ravaged by caterpillars, and many split after all of the rain.  We're getting a lot of good lunchbox peppers.



The habanero peppers Doug planted last year are a strange red color.  We think they probably cross-pollinated with some other peppers, so it'll be interesting to see what they taste like.

Mystery Pepper
The purple hull peas are doing very well, as per usual.  PHP's are really a great crop!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

More Chicks!

Last week was the last week of summer camp.  We're sad to see it go, but everything needs an end to start again!
The plum tree
The plum was harvested last week by two hard-working campers.  Those campers also made peach pie for everyone!
 


Unfortunately, the vixen has found a way into the chicks' old enclosure, so we've had more chicken losses.  Luckily, 5 out of the 8 chicks we recently hatched have made it, and we've created a new enclosure using Carabiner hooks, which have seemed to work in the past.  Hopefully this one will be fox-proof.




Meanwhile, the purple hull peas are still producing like crazy!  Also, the chicken tractor is progressing slowly but surely.  Soon, we should have a mobile chicken command center.



Next week, we plan on starting a monthly volunteer program where youth help us with maintenance.. They will be helping us keep up the garden in Tristan's absence.  We encourage all readers to join in!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Chicken Models and Monsoons

Last week, we hosted an arts and crafts camp, which ended Thursday.  We picked farm flowers with the campers, collected honey, and picked tomatoes. The poor bees might be getting stressed from all of this honey collection! 

If bees get stressed, they can die.
The campers also drew sketches of our chickens.  That is no easy task, since they are always twitching their necks and walking around.

(Not Made by a Camper -- From Wikimedia Commons)


This week, it's been extremely rainy.  Thus, it has been quiet due to the lack of outside activities we can do.

Only a Slight Exaggeration

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Another Robert R. Brown Week!

Unfortunately, this post, too, will not have pictures of the events I write about for a while, as I am not in the area to take them at the moment.  That will change come next week.

Sorry
Last week was another Robert R. Brown week!  Robert R. Brown week is a camp wherein adults with mental and physical disabilities to come and have fun. The campers shelled purple hull peas, toured the garden, helped sow clover, and helped dry herbs.

Doug Knight and Maggie Israel, the sustainability intern, made lots of salsa, dill pickles, and bread & butter pickles!  You can buy them all at Camp Mitchell!  The salsa is $3 per half pint and $5 per pint.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Interview with Doug Knight


Doug Knight is the Farm Director for Camp Mitchell's Agricultural Project.  When asked what his job entails exactly, he said, "A lot. I wear a lot of hats, I'm in charge of a lot of projects."

His jobs include, but are not limited to, watching the farm's money and making budgets, making sure all of the inventory and money is used, and organizing the maintenance people, the kitchen, the camp staff, the board of directors, and the camp directors to help people participate in farm activities.

There is, of course, the actual growing of food, which is "a huge part of the job."  He enjoys the physical work and planning that goes into the growing of food, but he does not necessarily enjoy the administrative part.  He said that if the farm grows much more, he won't be able to do much more farming and will have to hire more people to work on the farm.

The directors are indeed considering growing the farm (at Doug's requests).  It wasn't always so large, however.  For three years before he and his wife Jenny came to work for amp Mitchell, there were only a few beds around where the chicken coop and outdoor learning center are now, and the Sustainability Intern (Maggie Israel's current job) did all of the physical work for 3 months of the summer.

Faith "for sure" affects Doug's work.  He does not explititly bring it up with campers, or others in the garden, because of lack of time.  He says that he wishes he did have the opportunity to do so, however.  As it is, he believes the lessons about God you can learn while farming and the parallels to parts of the Bible are still there.

God is the source of life, so nurturing life is a good way to get close to Him.  Doug believes that if you pay enough attention to anything, it can be a "path to holiness," as he puts it.  Plus, helping to protect God's earth is also a spiritual activity.

Doug's favorite part of the job is, according to him, "Hard to say."  He really likes the basic work it takes to grow the food.  He also really enjoys having anyone who's excited about it in the garden to ask questions.

He has not liked being torn between the physical work and the administrative work (e.g. grant applications, emails, bookkeeping).  However, it has allowed him to become better at prioritizing items in his schedule.

He discovered his love of farming in Japan 3 years ago, where he and his wife participated in a Young Adult Service Corps trip as a gap year activity.  The school was an internationally-focused college that trained people from developing countries about sustainable agriculture, and how to teach people in their home countries to use sustainable agriculture instead of industrialized agriculture.

There, Doug and Jenny kept up the garden that the school used for teaching activities.  They also picked up a few tips about how to farm as well, and started to think that farming might be the field they wanted to go into.

In 5 years, he sees the farm as a place where he can have full time interns or students to learn much the same things as the students in the Japanese school they worked for, and also the lessons in administration that he has had to learn as Farm Director.  That is to say, things like cooking, budgeting, and local farm community organizing.

They would also discuss leadership  and environment-related questions like "What does it mean to be human?", or "how should we live in a globalized society?"  This program would consist of maybe four people, ad would coexist with the summer camp.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dick Johnson Children's Camp & Chicken Disappearances

Unfortunately, my phone is being extremely uncooperative today, so there will be no pictures in this post for the time being.

Last week the Dick Johnson Children's Camp came to have their 2016 camp at Camp Mitchell!  This camp is a camp for children whose parents have been incarcerated.  They participated in all of the farm activities available to regular Camp Mitchell campers: Food Life, Free Choice, and Special Skill.

The Food Life group was able to witness our beekeepers retrieve honeycombs from the hives, and helped them harvest some of the honey from them.  They learned all about bees and honey!

During all of Wednesday's activities, the campers helped feed the chickens, wash the chickens' water through.  Next was the greenhouse.  There, they learned about the hydroponic lettuce, what it means for a plant to "bolt,' picked lettuce, and got rid of caterpillars.

Then, they learned about the various herbs in the herb garden and the plums in the orchard, and sampled many of them.

Last but not least, the helped us shell some of the purple hull peas we have, which we gave to the kitchen to use in meals.

Sadly, one of our chickens died of old age overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, and Buttercup, our favorite chicken, disappeared from the coop even though our foxproof door additions were secure.  There were no feathers or anything!

We will probably get new chickens soon, as it is nearing time to turn most of the current ones (sans the rooster and the chicks, presumably) into soup.  Something ends, something begins and all that.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tristan's Last Week

Last week was Tristan Odekirk's last week of work.  He is planning on applying to graduate school at Michigan Tech University, where he wants to study Civil Engineering.  His hope is to help cities become more environmentally friendly, and to use what he has learned about soils, animal life, and agriculture in his work. 


We will certainly miss him!  The farm won't be the same without him.

In other news, we made quite a lot of progress on in the cob outdoor learning center next to the herb garden.  We laid one cob layer per day -- seven steps closer to being complete!

We also made many dill pickles with our fresh herbs and cucumbers.  In a little while, they'll be sellable!