It has been quite a spring at Ferncliff, and one week from today summer officially begins…that is summer campers arrive. I know that I will have little time to write blogs, so to accommodate for that fact I am going to give you the whirlwind tour of what has gone on this spring and what (I think) summer will look like. Buckle up cause here we go…
In March we traveled to Western Georgia to attend the YAV Southeastern Sites Retreat. We met up with our fellow YAVs from NOLA, Atlanta, Asheville, and Miami for a weekend of reflection and fellowship. We enjoyed lots of good food, played lots of games, and spend hours discussing the Enneagram(stay tuned for more). I even led yoga for the first time ever!
March turned out to be an entire month of firsts, as I had the opportunity to preach for the first time on Earth Sunday and we got to meet the enneagram guru herself, Suzanne Stabile! Preaching was quite frankly terrifying, but alas…I survived, and I was in the middle of enneagram bliss that weekend, so that certainly helped. The conference we attended with Suzanne was a 3 day dive into how to be more balanced in your personality. We love the enneagram in our YAV household, and I could certainly fill an entire blog post with the many ways it has led to better communication, understanding, and compassion for each other and ourselves, but I will keep it short and say this alone: the enneagram teaches non-judgmental self-observation with the belief that having compassion for yourself leads to greater compassion for others. There is lots of good reading available from Suzanne Stabile and Richard Rohr if you are interested.
In other news at Ferncliff…WE GOT BEES! This has been an incredibly fun learning experience for me and I am so excited that we made it happen and got hives at Ferncliff. Honeybees are incredible insects and a great vehicle for education about creation care. I am far from an expert, but I have learned a lot from local beekeepers, and I am thoroughly enjoying passing on some of this knowledge to our campers and Nature Preschoolers.
As people who eat, we owe a lot to honeybees…one out of every three bites we take has been pollinated by, and therefore produced, by bees. It is easy to overlook the important role pollinators play, but trust me it is not insignificant. To put this in clearer terms let me just say that now I am struggling to get the tomato plants in the hoop house to put on fruit. This is likely because the plastic of the hoop house (which does a great job creating ideal temperature and humidity) prevents pollinators from getting to the flowers on the tomato plants. I tell you this first and foremost because honeybee populations are declining, and with the use of herbicides, so are many of their native food sources. So lets Save the Bees! Plant native flowers in your garden, buy local honey, and be thoughtful about what you use to kill weeds in your yard.
This past weekend Megan and I took advantage of the long weekend and headed up to Greers Ferry Lake to camp for Memorial Day. This was our last chance to get off of camp and rest before summer camp begins so we were thrilled to relax, get some reading in, and lounge by the lake. We also had some fun with our campfire cooking.
And last but certainly not least, the garden. To put it simply, things are wild. Everything is growing like crazy, which means weeds are growing like crazy, and needless to say, my shoulder blades are quite tan.
The Ferncliff Farm includes, about 25 raised beds, 25 20′ rows, a hoop house, a small orchard and blueberry patch, and a smattering of animals.
As the Farm Steward my primary job is to care for the animals and manage our growing areas. In the fall and winter this is pretty manageable but in the spring and summer months I am often calling in reinforcements. Megan has been a huge help already this spring, and as I transition to having camper groups in the garden three mornings a week, (enneagram wisdom here) I am leaning out of my default personality and pushing myself to ask for help. Just so you can see how fast things are growing…here are a few photos, all taken about a week apart.
As summer camp arrives our duties as YAVs will shift slightly. We are not counseling and will not be with campers or summer staff all the time, but as I mentioned we do host groups of campers in our respective areas (Farm, Eco Center, and Disaster Assistance Center). So in my case, 3 mornings a week, I will lead groups in the garden, teaching them about gardening and caring for creation as a whole, and how we can make a difference in small ways. Most groups will come out for one hour and tour the garden, meet the animals and bees, and then help me tend the veggies. There is also a theme camp called farm camp, in which those campers will spend two hours a day in the garden and get a much more in depth experience gardening and caring for our animals. I am also lifeguarding for camp, so evenings will often be spent at the pool with campers or mission groups.
I can not believe that there are only two months left in my YAV year; camp is certainly going to make for a busy end to the year. It has been such a blast so far, and I am so so thankful to have been placed in Little Rock and to have spent my year with these amazing girls in a beautiful place. Thanks as always for supporting me, near and far, and for following along on this crazy ride.