How is the horse? Is Pumpkin still there? Can we pet the goats? What are the chickens doing in all this snow? Where does that cute bunny go in Winter? Ahh, the animals! I have long said that chickens trump turnips; and the rabbit, in her hutch or at the top of her well-dug hole, is indeed far cuter than an adorable long-stemmed, deep-rooted purple carrot. What is an organic farm teacher to do? The children who visit the Farm ask early and often about the dear animals who live at the Farm. At the Cohasset Health and Recreation Fair, many parents jog the memory of their children, by asking them to recall their trip to the Farm and the animals they were able to see, feed and even pet. Well the animals are still at the Farm and are indeed quite a lure for visitors old and young. They each have some responsibilities that range from manure to poison ivy consumption to eggs to that intangible quality: cuteness. On field trips we make sure to pause at their homes to discuss shelter, space and accessibility. As well as just admire.
But wait, there is more. We are planning a variety of crops in the Farm Pantry garden for teens seeking community service work hours and opportunities to donate organic produce to local food pantries. We are going to build raised beds in the education garden for easy to pluck spinach and greens, carrots and pole beans so Summer camp kids can have sweet, healthy snacks all Summer long. There will be a walk-in Sunflower house for reflection and a lovely shady spot when the Summer sun is at its height. The woods are open for trails and walking, with much to discover in the diversity of trees, bushes and saplings, wildflowers and evergreens. And now, an intrepid visitor can find him or herself in the tall, high tunnel warm oasis hoop house, wiping off steam from their glasses or lifting their collective (dropped) jaws at the site of all the seedlings. Greenhouse manager and stove stoker Jasmin is spending many waking and sleepless days and nights monitoring the temperature and growth of the safflowers, kale, heliopsis, spinach and Parris Island lettuce, to name but a few. So much to see, discover and eventually to eat too.
But it is the animals about whom the parents and children ask. As much fun as it is to grow vegetables with and for kids, I know that animals are a large draw. As people emerge from snow drifts and consider Summer Camps or where to go for a walk on a spring day, I hope they think about their local, organic farm. And as we open the barn doors on Saturday the 28th, the animals will be close by, having done their part to also lure friends (and memories) to this terrific, working farm.
© 2015, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm