Unbelievably, the first week of LEAF is complete! Twelve new individuals started their first experience with LEAF last Thursday, with two days of orientation. Our leadership team (composed of our Crew Leaders, Assistant Crew Leaders, and Level 2 Crew) was fully prepared for their arrival after spending Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in workshops and farm tasks meant to equip them with the necessary skills for the entire summer. We worked to prepare the outdoor learning space, and also participated in an activity designed to explore different parts of each of our identities. The group concluded with an overnight at the farm, waking up early in the morning to a bountiful harvest for our restaurant and preschool partners.
Getting to work with the new crew - the twelve folks who were hired this spring to be part of our eight week program - has been a huge privilege already! Coming from several different school and districts, the team is eager and excited about doing the hard work that needs to happen around the farm. Despite the heat (and occasional thunder storm!), everyone pushed themselves to learn new skills and connect with their peers. We focused on the building blocks of farming this week, making sure everyone had a solid foundation that would carry them through the season. We transplanted, direct seeded, formed and prepared beds, weeded, and harvested.
On Monday, the new interns were also split into two crews of six youth each. By the end of the week, they had developed team names and flags! Over the summer, there will be times when everyone is divided between their crews for visits to our partner farms, serving at Salvation Army, and the highly anticipated Farm Olympics. Each crew has one Crew Leader and one Assistant Crew Leader to help guide folks through their experience. Lynn became Crew Leader of the Thunder Spuds, and Olivia of the Sick Beets!
One other thing that is done in individual crews is Real Talk, an essential part of LEAF that is not always understood. Each week, the interns receive feedback from their Crew Leader in the form of "positives" and "deltas"; areas in which each individual person is doing well, and areas that they may want to draw their attention to. This concept can be confusing at first, as the idea of receiving constructive criticism in front of peers may be unnerving, but its impact is profound. Youth are able to feel seen and understood as the complex people that they are, all from the perspective that LEAF is investing in them and their potential. Over time, they are able to accurately self assess how they are doing, and develop their own trajectories for growth. It is also a great format to celebrate the amazing accomplishments they are part of every week!
Shortly, everyone will begin to spend more time in the kitchen as well as the farm, practicing their culinary skills in order to craft LEAF Kits. With the help of Lance Smith, executive chef of the Millworks, we are all looking forward to crafting delicious semi-prepared meals with local ingredients. Check out the LEAF store or our LEAF Kits page to learn more!
Over the next few weeks, the blog will be featuring a few of the different crew members this year, and information about their roles. As always, we'll also include special events and ways to get involved.