Greetings from Boston!
It's our second full day in Beantown. The morning started pretty early as we made our way to our first service site, The Farm at Long Island Shelter. "The Farm" is a four acre vegetable, flower and herb garden that provides food for the shelter and then some. We were scheduled to do some work outside, but the Northeaster that's been tearing through the area made it very windy, wet, and cold, especially out in the Boston Harbor. Luckily, our friends at the Long Island Shelter were extremely accommodating, and found plenty of work for us to inside where it was nice and warm. We helped with laundry, cleaned the cafeteria, chopped veggies in the kitchen for meals, and a few of us got our hands dirty seeding plants in "the chapel".
"The Farm" grows and harvests enough produce to keep the pantry stocked, as well as distributing to other shelters in the Boston area. They sell whatever they have leftover, and the revenue is enough to pay for the day to day operations and maintenance of the farm. As they planted tiny seeds in thumbprint sized impressions in the soil, the students found themselves in awe of the idea that such a seemingly small thing could yield so much for so many. They also felt a real, first hand connection to their work - something the regular staff at the farm feel every day. We often don't think about the food we eat, or where it comes from. But when you plant the seed, watch it grow, harvest the produce, and prepare the meal, you get filled with a true sense of satisfaction.
I think that's one of the reasons urban agriculture is really starting to catch on all over the country. Places like The Farm at Long Island Shelter not only provide food, shelter, employment opportunities, and job training, but they also provide a sense of community. You can tell that from the moment you walk in the door. I think our first day of service couldn't have gone better, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us.