The past two weeks at LEAF have been filled with some amazing stuff! In an incredibly short amount of time, our new crew has built many new skills, both in the farm and in the kitchen. The leadership team - Crew Leaders, Assistant Crew Leaders, and Level 2 Crew - has also been fortifying and practicing their skills as they lead tasks each day. This past week we started the first session of LEAF Kits, with the help of Lance Smith from the Millworks in Harrisburg. It was a great effort, and many members of the crew helped to craft each of the pieces of the two meals, and packaging them for delivery!
One afternoon in our second week, the entire crew took a trip to Pine Grove Furnace State Park after spending the morning in the Carlisle High School kitchen, learning stir fry skills with Chef Ehly. The goal of the visit to Pine Grove was to grow closer as a team, learn more about each other, and appreciate the landscape of the area in which we are working. As we hiked up to the gorgeous view at the top of Pole Steeple, we stopped periodically to do different initiatives and problem solving activities (with a hula hooping competition thrown in as well, for good measure). Once we all made it to the top, we took some time to quietly reflect, and then share some goals that we had as a group for the season.
We also had one of our first crew competitions! The two crews, with 6 first year youth interns, an Assistant Crew Leader, and a Crew Leader each, were charged with weeding a bed in the shortest amount of time possible, with added challenges along the way. It was the Thunder Spuds vs. the Sick Beets, and they dueled in excellence, efficiency, teamwork, and style points. The different strategies used were downright inspirational, with teams using affirmations, songs, and careful delegation that brought out each member's strengths. Team points get tracked throughout the summer in a friendly competition that motivates and encourages folks to continue striving towards growth.
As kits started this past week, more people spent time in the kitchen. The two meals for the first week of kits were zucchini flatbreads, and grilled chicken with salad. Each week, Lance Smith from the Millworks comes in and works with our youth to craft one of the meals. This mean that folks were grilling chicken, chopping kale, and preparing dressings and sauces each day in preparation for Wednesday delivery. Lance receives some boxes in Harrisburg for customers to pick up there, and the rest are either picked up at the farm or in Carlisle. It was so exciting to know that our youth interns were a part of every step in the process. This past week they participated in a workshop called "Why we eat," which helped to explain the way that the barriers to eating locally sourced and fresh meals are more often about convenience and time, as opposed to knowledge or money, in our community. As the kits are designed to help bridge those barriers, the youth know how meaningful their work really is. Just yesterday, Lynn Darby (Crew Leader) and Chef David Mills (chair of our board) presented LEAF Kits on ABC 27's Good Day PA!
This past Thursday, one of the crews went to Keswick Creamery in order to learn from Melanie Dietrich Cochran about the inside and out of her cheese business. The day started with milking (or at least attempting to!), followed by bottle feeding some young calves. For some folks, this is a familiar experience, while it is entirely new and kind of foreign for others. Either way, everyone had a great time with some really adorable cows! The real work began next, when the crew began turning the milk from that day into cheese. Keswick's cheese is made with traditional methods, using rennet, and a lot of the work is done by hand. While we had six people on the task of stirring, breaking up curds, and filling the molds, Melanie is accustomed to doing it with just one or two people! Everyone got to have a true understanding of the quality of her work, as she let us sample some incredible cheeses at lunch. Even though we all smelled like whey and milk at the end of the day, we were proud to have helped make 175 pounds of cheese!