The Green LIONS Garden Group visited New Earth Farm this week in Pungo, farm of Farmer John. Despite the unseasonably cool temperatures and the rain the students remained cheerful, interested and excited to explore the farm.
We started off with an introduction to the Community Development International Virginia Educational Farm and the larger farm property by the farm manager Kevin Jamison. He talked to the students about the art of growing food organically. He showed the students the difference in the plant coloring at the property line of New Earth and where it met the property line of the neighboring farm that raises crops using chemicals. The difference was stark with bright green meeting yellow brown. He showed the barrier of trees that is being developed between the two properties to protect the integrity of their organic growing methods.
He then took the students on a tour of the farm including the crop rows, the chicken coops and the hoop houses. The hoop houses were a welcome relief from the cool temperatures. Kevin explained why they were warmer and about solarization. He noted that if it had been a sunny day they may have been as hot as 90 degrees inside. He showed the students where they started and raised seedlings to plant or sell for others to plant. The students truly enjoyed the chickens, and the crowing roosters. A chicken chase ensued to capture the escaped chickens but they outsmarted the children by flying back over the fence. They may try to escape but they know their way back home.
The tour ended with a seedling transfer exercise where the students separated delicate celeriac seedlings into larger pots. With small, agile hands they transplanted all the seedlings lightning fast! While it was nice to return to the warmth of the bus, the cooler temperatures and rain gave a taste of what farm life can be like when the work must be done despite the weather conditions. Kevin was very thorough and informative in his tour and lecture and the students were fortunate to see a working sustainable farm in action. The lessons they have learned all year about organic gardening, sustainability and environmental practices came together neatly in one afternoon. Thanks New Earth Farm!