Even though the weather has been all over the place this spring - snow to heat and sun to never-ending rain - things have been progressing steadily at LEAF! Over the past few months, the staff has been focused on recruiting and hiring the crew of youth interns who will being their experience this summer in June, and the youth have been working hard to prepare the farm and themselves for a great season!
Beginning in March, our after school weekday crew started dedicating two afternoons a week to various farm tasks. They prepared the ground in the greenhouse, shoveled aisles and raked beds, seeded thousands of plants, and even catered a few events! In addition to the afterschool work sessions, crew members are participating in a six-part series of workshops that focus on the skills and attitudes needed to be youth leaders, both within LEAF and their lives outside of it. In the first workshop, the youth defined the state of youth engagement and employment in their schools and communities, as well as their perceptions of national trends. They identified the strengths needed to be a successful youth leader, as well as the weaknesses that affect young people in general. From there, the conversation became more centric to LEAF. What exactly does a successful intern at LEAF do? What skills do they have? What things do they know? Through brainstorming an exhaustive list of tasks, and then organizing it, the staff and youth team were able to distinguish exactly which group of people at LEAF (including new interns, experienced interns, interns with specialties, or staff) would be responsible for which tasks. Throughout the process, the “soft skills” that are harder to define, like being able to work across difference or having resilience, came through again and again as essential to the LEAF community.
As the academic year crew becomes more and more capable on the farm, in the kitchen, and in the community, they are beginning to specialize in their areas of interest within the organization. Some are focusing on customer service in the produce share, while others are devoting time to large scale projects on the farm. Each specialty is designed to challenge that crew member in further developing their talents, while also ensuring they have opportunities to try new and different things.