A few Saturdays ago, our volunteer morning was completely full! We had a lot of new volunteers and a few people who had been out to the farm before. Our outreach interns had been trained to lead their group in the fields harvesting squash, weeding, and using row cover over certain crops to protect them from hungry bugs! Our volunteer days start off the same way with a quick check in question, a few group games, and then a run down of what the day will entail. There was a mother and son who were volunteering on the farm for the first time and seemed especially excited about jumping into the fields.
Once the groups were divided up, the mother and her son who put into the group of one of our female interns Ines, who is in her 4th position at Urban Roots. Their first task was harvesting squash. Our squash plants are very healthy with huge leaves covered in tiny little spikes. For a lot of the plants, their leaves are so full, that they hang into the pathways where people walk. After Ines explained the task to her group, she partnered everyone up. The young boy suddenly realized that he would be have to walk between these large plants with the tiny spikes and search through them for the squash, and he wasn’t having any of it! He wanted to badly to experience harvesting, and finding the squash, but was pretty scared of what else he might find.
Through this entire process I saw Ines be extremely patient and find ways to engage him that didn’t require him walking into the big squash plants. She found creative ways to have him be a part of the experience, while also helping him to feel safe.
However, as the little boy became more comfortable with the farm, he was able to push himself a little more with each new task. By the end of the day when I came by to check on Ines and her crew, he was weeding and finding all sorts of critters to share with the group! Ines did such a great job of celebrating him overcoming his fears, and the hard work he put into helping the group finish their tasks.
There is always growth happening on the farm, but it was really special to witness such a beautiful example from our youth intern of what it looks like to be a patient leader who sees the value in celebrating someone’s personal victories.