Now that I have begun to do work on The Farm, like harvest vegetables and plant new ones, I have noticed how incredibly understaffed The Farm is. With only two less-than-average size hoop houses and one outdoor field, The Farm may seem small and easily manageable, but a lot more goes into food production than meets the eye.
Before you can plant any crop, there are many steps that must be taken to prep the soil. You have to weed the bed, till the soil, raise the bed, and add compost just to name a few. This is all laborious work that is done by hand, so it is difficult and time consuming. Once you carefully plant the crops measured distances away from each other, you must add amendments to the soil, irrigation, more compost, and trellising. Once the plants begin to grow they must be meticulously pruned and weeded daily. These tasks barely scratch the surface of the daily chores that go into running a farm and at The Farm at St. Joe’s there are only 3 employees, two of which do minimal physical work on the crops.
At The Farm, there is an education coordinator, a project coordinator, and a farm manager. The farm manager is the only employee who works with the crops every day. The project coordinator will help with some farm work, but not much (as she has other responsibilities). The eduction coordinator does not do any work with the crops. Her main focus is on education events like field trips. Because of this, The Farm relies heavily on volunteers. This, however, is problematic because they are not farming experts and have physical and time restrictions. I am very amazed at how The Farm is as productive and successful as it is because there is always something that must be done and essentially no one to do it. I have been a great help already by offering my help 8 hours a day 4 days a week. I am constantly wondering what The Farm would be capable of accomplishing if they only had a few more employees. It is an amazing operation that has made incredible strides educating about food and eating and changing nutrition dynamics at the hospital, but they would be able to do so much more if they had some more working hands. I hope to see and help The Farm grow as the summer progresses.