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Early Spring Happenings

There’s a lot going on in late April around VYCC. Members and Leaders are applying for jobs, solidifying their plans, and spring crews are getting started.

Here’s a glimpse of Farm & Forest work in April, and the people behind it:

Food & Farm

Many hands are waking up the farm. Leaders, staff and volunteers have been busy in the propagation house and market garden (that’s the plot between the two barns). Farm Leaders arrived in late March and have been making huge contributions to the land, and to our VYCC community!

Each Leader has a distinct role. Here are perspectives of four of the twelve 2023 Farm Leaders:

Claire has worked on a number of farms through her school years, from small family farms to wholesale vegetable production. “Lately, I’m passionate about pasture raised livestock, rotational grazing and diversified production. I’ve done a lot of solo farming and I’m curious about the power of what a lot of people can do together. I lived and worked as the only farmhand on a family farm, during COVID, isolated in northern Vermont. I loved it, but I think everything is better with other people. Having someone to help lift heavy things and bounce ideas with.”

Expressing appreciation for the experience of living where you work, Claire offers: “There’s something special about waking up there, drinking the water, eating the food, seeing the weather. It’s more than just driving there every morning – when it’s your home. And the team is more than just your coworkers.

After spending last season with VYCC’s Food & Farm Program, Quinn worked at a farm in Huntington over the winter. They tended and cleaned storage crops like butternut squash and potatoes, and delivered to local co-ops. “Doing deliveries is interesting, especially after a snowstorm in a box truck.” After learning that winter farming can mean being inside a barn all day every day, Quinn is glad to be back: “I’m happy to be in a different environment.”

Christine will lead a crew of high school aged Members this summer. She participated on a summer Food & Farm Crew two years ago, and came back because “VYCC has a supportive environment. It’s a good place to learn leadership skills. I like that Leaders do the work with the crew, and we will eat together.” In addition to providing guidance to Crew Members, Christine is looking forward to a longer season, starting with learning how to get crops going from seeds in the propagation house: “Seeding is new for me. There’s still so much to learn. VYCC is an endless learning opportunity.

Dominique grew up in a pizzeria, surrounded by a culture of food with her family – so it’s exciting to welcome her into the role of Food & Nourishment Lead, where Members and Leaders will have a chance to cook with her in the commercial kitchen.

Working for her aunt, a private chef who specializes in farm-to-table and Lebanese food, Dominique rolled so many grape leaves her hands turned green. She also studied environmental science, and says: “The crossover of food systems and sustainability is where I’m most fascinated. I’ve done research with farmers, but haven’t gotten to work on a farm yet. As I figure out how to use my degree, farming is the piece I need experience with. I can’t learn farming from a book. I was drawn to VYCC for hands-on farming experience and making food accessible to the surrounding community. Nutritious food. That element is missing from so many food access programs.”

Also, know that Dominque loves salad. Even as a kid she’d say “you can take away my friends but don’t take away my salad.”

Pro Forest Crew

A few weeks ago, the Pro Forest Crew was out of sight and earshot from the farm. Tucked into the woods uphill from the East Monitor Barn, the crew completed Game of Logging levels 1, 2, and 3.

Three members of the crew previously worked together at another corps running chainsaws. Eva (she/her, Crew Leader) and Mike (he/him, Crew Member) are two of them. Here is how they describe their week with VYCC and Game of Logging:

They told us that in their previous job, they earned a US Forest Service training and certification. The Game of Logging training builds on the skills they came to Vermont with; and “by class three, I was totally set. It was all coming together.

“The instructor, Kyle, was so experienced. Not only were we learning textbook stuff, but getting career advice that he picked up over time. When we were felling trees, Kyle was really close. He had so much confidence in us. It helped us when we were learning to drop hazard and difficult trees.”

“We were scored the whole time, and the two crew members new to sawing came out on top!”

Mike’s favorite moment of the training: “I felled the biggest tree I’ve felled in my life. It felt amazing. It reminded me why I decided to come up here. I loved it. It’s so exhilarating.”

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