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Imagine 30 two-hundred-foot-long rows of onions planted 6 inches apart. These onions will supply Three Sister's 250 CSA members with onions for several months each year. Transplanted in April, by June they have already been weeded with a tractor and hoed at least once. Now the plants have grown too big for these tools to be used, but a new flush of weeds is threatening to overtake the entire crop. Something needs to be done or the weeds will outpace the crop and the onions will be stunted and lost in a forest of weeds come harvest time in August.
These onions need to be hand-weeded; a task that would theoretically take one farmer 40 hours to complete. It is however unlikely that any one farmer would be able to complete this task; there’s too much else to do at the same time, and one’s physical body or mental health would likely give out before the task was complete.
At Three Sisters Community Farm we have always taken a community-oriented approach to solving the problem of a burdensome workload. When 13 people show up on a Saturday morning – like they did this year -- weeding the onions only takes 3 hours, and no one leaves feeling physically or mentally exhausted. In fact, the work seems almost effortless. During such sessions, members and farmers can get to know each other and share stories and ideas that lead to the further development of the farm community. And it’s fun!
Hand weeding onions is just one example of a long list of epic tasks that present themselves one-after-another each growing season on a diversified organic vegetable farm.
Each year the work of feeding 250 families/friends is made possible by a small core of employees and contractors and a much larger army of volunteers. On any given week there are between 15-45 people helping out with harvest, field work. packing boxes or overseeing our pickup locations. That is ALOT of people! We are so thankful for this crew. We believe that people power allows us to produce a much higher quality product than the industrial food system, not only because things are done by hand but also because they are done with heart.
We are excited to announce that next year we will place even more emphasis on our volunteer program. Alyx -- who has been both a worker share volunteer and employee at the farm -- will step into the role of volunteer/social coordinator. In this capacity, she’ll help us streamline and grow our volunteer program as well as provide new and fun opportunities that will serve members of all ages. This is a role that needs more attention than we have been able to manage, and Alyx has the skills to take this aspect of Three Sisters to the next level.
In order to take this leap we are asking for your help. We know that the benefit of this program to the farm will sustain its cost in the future; it is during the initial phase of its development that we ask for your support. If you have ever been positively impacted by your time as a volunteer or benefitted from the work of a farm volunteer we ask that you consider a gift to help support the salary of the volunteer coordinator position at Three Sisters Community Farm as well as the procurement of additional tools, signs, infrastructure, advertising/outreach that will help make this initiative a success.