By Sean Towle, Production Intern
Growing up, my family always had at least one small garden in our yard where we grew a lot of different plants. Being influenced heavily by their Italian roots, my parents were very fond of growing tomatoes and basil, and so that was where most of the garden land went. One year, we had a fairly prolific strawberry patch, and I can remember going out to pick berries with my dad. ( And eating most of the berries before saving some, of course!)
When I left home to go to Goucher College, one of the many big changes that I experienced was the lack of plants surrounding me. So I decided to join my school’s community garden. I immediately found being surrounded by plants again to be incredibly relaxing and stress relieving. Before big tests or assignments, I would spend an hour or two in the garden taking care of the kale or harvesting the spinach. (I am pretty sure this pastime helped out my grades, too!)
During my second year with the garden, I found my interests breaking off from the rest of the members. The rest of the team felt that continuing conventional growing patterns, pest prevention, and weed control plans was necessary, but after taking some environmental studies courses, I began to research organic techniques and dive into permaculture and other more sustainable practices. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of an outlet to explore these areas… until I discovered Real Food Farm through the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City.
Even though I’ve only been here at Real Food Farm for a short time so far, I’ve already found countless ways to expand my knowledge of organic farming practices. Between green mulch, recognizing which plants to put in which plot, attracting the “good” bugs, identifying weeds (especially the edible ones!) and learning how to cater to specific plant’s needs, I’ve been able to jump into plant cultivation in ways I was not able to before. It’s been incredibly enjoyable learning these methods of growing food and caring for plants at Real Food Farm. Learning these methods, engaging in the mission of Real Food Farm, picking up tidbits of info on everything from tomato juice to the healing properties of lemon balm from my coworkers, combined with the relaxing experience of being surrounded by plants (I even got my morning strawberry picking again, although I can’t eat as many at the farm as I did at home with my dad!) makes my time here feel like much more than just the hours I put in.