How we found balance between student safety and mental health during a pandemic
How did we find balance between student safety and mental health during a pandemic? Our all-outdoor work in small groups allowed students an opportunity to engage with the non-screen world during a time when almost everything else was paused or virtual.
In the fall we quadrupled our weekly volunteering times, allowing for smaller farming groups with plenty of fresh air. Our loyal volunteers dug carrots and potatoes, planted 1,000 strawberry plants, and harvested ALL of our 1976 pounds of winter squash.
LaFarm offered our first-ever full-time student management position to Addie King ‘21 who joined our crew for the third summer! With a year’s experience running the Vegetables in Community program, Addie offered support to LaFarm, Easton Urban Farm, and the veggie stand, and gained experience in seeding cover crops, tractor cultivation, and crew management.
In September, students in Professor Caslake’s Microbiology course were required to bury a pair of children’s underwear 6” in the soil for 60 days as a way of testing soil health. One student opted to bury the underwear at LaFarm! Lizzy Obarow ‘21 explains, “The ‘Soil Your Undies’ experiment is a way to test soil health… the more the underwear is deteriorated at the end of 60 days, the healthier the soil is due to an abundance of soil microbes that help to cycle nutrients, resist erosion, and store water.” The strands of remains left after 60 days gave a pretty clear indication of the health of our soil.