A blog post from one of our amazing volunteers! Thank you for your kind words Leah!
It’s funny how sometimes we get so wrapped up in the business of school, work, extra-curricular and social outgoings that we, as students, forget to take time to appreciate the small things. This happened to me as a nutrition student, I was so focused and driven on completing school work, going out for drinks with friends, or trying to catch the bus to get to work on time that I forgot to take a minute and remember what important aspects got me here in the first place. It wasn’t until my Nutrition Education class in my third year of University that I actually was reminded of the simple things that can collectively make a big impact.
We were in class to choose a target of focus to work on for our semester long project, and I chose the Acadia Campus Community Farm out of mere curiosity. I quickly learned that the farm was more than I suspected and I became even more enthralled with the idea of researching the farm by talking with its coordinators and simply learning hands-on how the heck they do what they do. I was baffled when I discovered the amount of time and effort the farming coordinators and their volunteers put into making the farm operational, educational and accessible to the public. The level of commitment that they put in to their land to seed, grow and harvest produce is outstanding. Even more so, is value of where the produce ends up. The majority of the vegetables harvested goes to the Wheelock Dinning Hall at Acadia University for the students and staff and any remaining produce from the farm gets donated to the local food bank. Even though the resources from the farm are fairly limited in quantity, the resources are still able to be shared with the majority of community members in some way. I think that that is an outstanding initiative for the community farm members to have; the idea of sharing locally grown and healthy foods is important for everyone to play a part in.
It was not until I got to the farm to do my volunteer hours as part of Nutrition Education, that the amount of work and time put into the farm began to unfold before me. I only had a little taste of the experience while there because I worked on the herb garden behind meal hall, weeding and prepping the soil for the winter season. This was only a small opportunity to get a look at the bigger picture of the volunteerism put into the farm but it was still a lot of work. I also had the availability to ask questions that had been on my mind about the farm, and learn how to differentiate between different herb species. By asking questions I found out that even though the farm runs mostly on the help of others, volunteers are few and far between when the school year begins its midterm season. Due to this, sometimes the farm needs to spread its volunteers thin to get the amount of work needed to be done, accomplished. As said previously it’s funny how we get so wrapped up in busyness but it’s also completely understandable as being a student myself, but a little time can go a long way. I felt that this lack of volunteerism would be valued information to take back to my peers in Nutrition Education, especially after having such an enjoyable, relaxing and informative time on the farm. With this information we were able to create an action plan of how to increase volunteerism for the farm, which became our assignment to hand in for Nutrition Education. Our initiative consisted of first, increasing knowledge of the farm by targeting first year students every year during their Welcome Week with workshops hosted by the farm for four consecutive years. This we hoped, will create knowledge of the farm, its purpose and location and that we reached the majority of the student population with this information by the end of the four years. By educating students of the volunteer opportunities the farm provides, we hope to reach the second goal of increasing volunteerism on the farm!
It’s just one idea a group of us came up with to get more volunteers on the farm, but in short what they need now and in the future is people like me, you, or anyone to lend a helping hand. It’s the little things that can go a long way! It’s the small things like harvesting, foods, valuing your community, being in touch with nature and sharing what you have that made me want to be in nutrition in the first place. The farm brought me back in touch with myself by incorporating all these important values within the community farm. It’s important to volunteer and give back to something so important that gives out so much to the community without people even knowing!