There is something very gratifying about eating a vegetable that you harvested yourself. Before I came to Chewonki, I didn’t know all that much about how small-scale organic farming truly worked on a day-to-day scale. Living and working here on Chewonki Neck for the past three months has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of and a better connection to my food.
Thinking back to the first week of the semester, I remember our first work program at the farm. We broke up into groups (embracing our group names: Potatoes, Tatoes, Taters, Tots, Winter Squash, and Dry Beans) to harvest. Now, it’s amazing to see a piece of squash or potato on my plate and know that it has traveled only a few hundred yards to get from the ground to the table. It’s the epitome of a farm-to-table food system, and I am still in awe that we get to eat this way every day here.
Morning farm chores aid in deepening this connection to the food we eat. Each cabin has two weeks (or sometimes a little more) of daily farm chores from 6:30 a.m.-7:15 a.m. In addition to allowing for some quality cabin bonding time, the chores give us a taste of what it’s like to raise our own food. Once we arrive at the barn, our cabin group splits up and goes off to complete separate tasks that are really all closely related. While some of us make sure the fencing for the beef cows is properly set up, others milk the dairy cows. Someone collects eggs while others turn compost from the previous week’s meals. Each of our tasks connects to the others and the community at large; it is a cycle linking us to past and future semesters. Seeing milk or eggs that we carried from the farm (“Look at that one!” I recall someone saying eagerly while pointing to a huge egg we were carrying) on our tables is not only delicious and satisfying but also allows us to gain perspective on what it takes to get food to the grocery store back in our home communities.
The awareness and conscientiousness that the whole Chewonki community shares regarding food is incredible. At each meal, the designated “Plato” for the day announces which ingredients in the meal are from the farm and which are local. It’s fascinating to see what we are able to self-sufficiently produce here and what we can purchase from the local farming community. Foods that are left over are never thrown away. They are always composted, so that the nutrients can return to the soil on the farm for next semester’s students, to start the cycle again.
Maya, Arlington High School, Arlington Massachusetts
Learn more about Salt Marsh Farm at Chewonki by visiting our Farm & Food page