Session II Internship Update: Team B

Monday, June 13th marked Team B’s first work day of the session two internship program! The Connecticut River Academy is an early-college high school in East Hartford, Connecticut, that has a strong commitment to environmental sustainability and leadership. During session two, Team B will be nurturing and expanding their community gardens, every Monday and Thursday.13459682_810025039132295_128343172_n

Today, we had two main goals: water all the vegetation and re-plot the pumpkin patch. Pumpkins have a large root system and need a good a
mount of space for their roots to grow. The current pumpkin patch had several seeds growing, but they were bundled together, causing their root systems to compete for nutrients. While digging up the pumpkins, we were fascinated by the pumpkin seeds we found, connected to the plant’s root system and its stem. It was beautiful to see those familiar looking pumpkin seeds, broken open by that initial sprout. It is a reminder that nature consistently creates life, which can be easily forgotten about.

In the wake of tragedies within our own communities, such as in Orlando, witnessing life grow from something so small is inspiring. It’s a reminder that life (and humanity) is more complex than what it seems to be on the surface. Like the pumpkin, everyone needs a space of their own, in order to thrive and flourish. Unfortunately, a place of safety was taken away from the Latinx and LGBTQ community, and we would like to send our deepest sympathies and love to those who lost their lives and lost their loved ones. We stand with you.  

Although we cannot easily re-plot humanity, this pumpkin seed can be re-located. It may seem like a small act, but it is a kindness we can pay forward. After carefully removing each plant, we gave each one enough space for it’s roots to grow.

Once we finished re-plotting the pumpkin seeds, we removed weeds and watered the school’s raised beds. They are growing a variety of different fruits and veggies including: strawberries, apples, hot peppers, basil, chives, tomatoes and more! Our team member, Chloe, showed us the chocolate-basil that is growing in it’s own raised bed. It has a really strong flavor (loved by some, hated by others) and it seems to be growing really well. The food that is grown from these gardens is distributed to a local church, the animals in their habitat room and their school’s staff and students.

We can’t wait to do more work in the gardens at Connecticut River Academy. And in remembrance of the victims of the tragic shooting in Orlando, it helps to reflect on how we can create communities of compassion, instead of ones of oppressive isolation. Our actions and outlooks make a large impact, no matter how small it may seem. You can make a difference.

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”
-Rumi

Field Trip to Gardening the Community

At the end of each session of the Urban Farming Internship, we take a field trip to visit a farm or urban garden. This year, we participated in a work day with Gardening the Community in Springfield, MA.

Gardening the Community is a food justice organization engaged in youth development, urban agriculture and sustainable living to build healthy and equitable communities. 

Much like Summer of Solutions, Gardening the Community coordinates a youth program in their gardens. We worked with members of their youth program, some of whom had been working there for four years, while some had started just a few weeks before! Along with, volunteers from a local church, a local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, and a bike-fixing startup, we worked at two different lots.

Gardening the Community works on a combination of city land and their own land. Some of their sites are focused on production for their farm stand and CSA, while others are dedicated to community growing space. We focused on two of their production sites for the day, and walked a few blocks over to check out their new greenhouse. Our group worked on clearing some overgrowth to make room for a new bed, planting tomatoes, and watering. It was wonderful to learn from another urban farming program, with their own successes and challenges. Gardening the Community is planning a visit down to Hartford soon to work with us on the Zion Street Community Garden!

Session 2 Begins!

This year, the Urban Farming Internship is split into three 10-week sessions, spring, summer, and fall. We made this change to accommodate people with different schedules, such as high schools students, or parents who can only work while their children are in school. Interns had the option to apply to 1, 2, or all 3 sessions. We ended Session 1 on June 4th, and five of our interns, Drashawn, Chloe, Nyrieka, Bishar, and Nichol, stayed on for Session 2. We welcomed five new interns, Jesse, Morgan, Nyah, Sakinah, and Derek, at Session 2 Orientation on June 10th.

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The Session 2 team!

We played some name games, filled out boring paperwork, and then made seed bombs, lead by Nichol!

We like to start the program with a group work day, before our interns break off into smaller teams to work on their garden sites. So, we all met up on Saturday afternoon at the Wesley Colbert Zion Street Community Garden. Our new interns were such great sports as it rained for the whole. four. hours.

We signed up neighbors for new raised beds, transplanted peppers, collected some mulberries, cleared overgrown branches, and spent 10 minutes huddled in the shed to wait out a particularly aggressive downpour. One of our intern’s dads volunteered with us for the day to help weed-whack the back of the lot. Of course, as these things go, the sun came out in the last 20 minutes of our workday.

103.5%

We are delighted to share great news about our spring campaign for Summer of Solutions Hartford. Every month, employees from GoFundMe nominate their favorite projects on the site for consideration for their Give Back award. Brian, a GoFundMe employee, was inspired by our work after watching a talk by Will Allen, an urban farming activist. He nominated us to receive a $1,000 contribution from GoFundMe. All of the nominations were reviewed by a committee, and they selected our project as the winner!

Imagine my surprise when I saw a $1,000 donation appear on our page! 
{We’re as happy as people holding baby goats}
Their contribution brings our total to $4,660, or 103.5% of our original goal, and we are overjoyed. Our page will be active and accepting contributions until May 31st. Any additional donations will be allocated to our school gardens at the Burns Latino Studies Academy and the Connecticut River Academy to support youth interns working on those teams.
Remember, 2015 donors who increase their contribution will be entered into a raffle to win a basket of fresh produce, and first-time donors will receive an individual serving of mint tea grown in the Wesley Colbert Zion Street Community Garden.
You can make a donation to Summer of Solutions in two ways:

1)   Contribute to our online Go Fund Me campaign

2)   Mail a check to our fiscal sponsor, made out to New England Grassroots Environment Fund. Write “Summer of Solutions Hartford” in the memo line and mail to:PO Box 611, Newmarket NH 03857

Thank you all for your support and for sharing this success with us!

Throwback Thursday

{This post originally appeared June, 2015}

We are just about half way through out 2015 Urban Farming Internship and the time is flying by. Last week, we organized a Friday Workshop around exploring the role social  media plays for Summer of Solutions. Everyone worked in groups to write updates for the blog about what we have been working on so far this year!

Here are their updates, below:

The Greenhouse 


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Summer of Solutions Hartford built a greenhouse at the Burns Elementary School on April 25th. It was funded by the Deupree Family Foundation.

The first day of building the greenhouse, a group of Aetna employees were on hand and they helped us out. The greenhouse is almost finished and almost up and running. There are pots of seeds started in it .

Bike Share Program

Summer of Solutions Hartford now has a bike share program. We lend bikes to the people in our programs. It helps them travel better throughout the greater Hartford area.

So Much Compost 

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On Zion Street there is a lot of compost and dirt, thanks to Harvest Power New England. They delivered two trucks full of dirt and compost to us. We are mixing this dirty plus compost to fill beds up. That way we can help the plants grow.

Giving Away Seeds and Beds

Summer of Solutions Hartford every year gives away free seeds and raised beds to anyone who wants a bed at the Zion Street garden. We have different varieties of seeds  to give away to people and pretty soon we are going to give away free seedlings to people. These free seeds come from wonderful donations from Comstock, Ferre & Co, and Charles Hart Seed Company.

Logo!

We are very excited to unveil our new logo! Many thanks to Graham Sternberg for consulting with us and creating the design.

It looks pretty good on a t-shirt, too!

Orientation

The first 10-week session of our Urban Farming Internship program started on April 1st! We welcomed 8 interns to the program, some returning for their second or third season, and many new faces!

We played some name-games and developed team norms with our new group. Of course, we also talked about what to expect from the program, read through policies, and filled out the necessary paperwork. But this is a gardening program, so we couldn’t spend the whole afternoon on paperwork. We had to make time to get in the dirt!

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Drashawn, an intern who graduated the program in 2015, taught the group how to make seed bombs. We chose a variety wildflower seeds that grow well in this climate. First, you mix soil and compost. Then, you slowly add water until the dirt will keep its form. You roll it into a ball, and then poke a hole in it and add the seeds. Finally, you pinch the hole closed and let the seed bomb dry. After a few days in a sunny window, they will be hard on the outside and we can throw them into vacant lots to spread flowers all around Hartford!

Urban Farming Internship- Hiring!

Urban Farming Internship

Job Description:

Summer of Solutions is a youth run, nonprofit that focuses on urban gardening and youth leadership. We maintain community, school, and public educational gardens in urban areas. We work to engage community members and students in the gardens by providing community events, workshops, and school lessons at each worksite. We are looking for young people, ages 14-30 to join our internship team for the 2016 growing season. While working with Summer of Solutions, our interns will be expected to commit to working 10 hours/week for 10 weeks with their assigned team. You will be working with 3 to 4 other interns and 1 Program Coordinator. You and your team will be assigned to work at 1 or more of our sites.  A work day with Summer of Solutions is usually no more than 6 hours and no less than 2 hours a day. The schedule depends on which team you work with. Each intern will dedicate 8 hours/week to working in the gardens and 2 hours/week to leadership development and sustainability skills training.

What’s expected of interns:

  • Professionalism
  • Positive Attitudes
  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Open Mindedness
  • Appropriate shoes and clothing to garden in
  • Must be comfortable with traveling to worksites

Gardening can be physically demanding! Everyday tasks includes shoveling, moving dirt, carrying buckets of water, etc. Please come prepared to work outside in all weather. You do not need to be an expert gardener to participate in the program – in fact, beginner gardeners are encouraged to apply!

Summer of Solutions interns work directly with school age children so the interns we hire need to show professionalism while  working with children, for example; swearing is prohibited.

Applicants can apply to the first, second, or third internship session. Applying to all three is optional. These are the dates of the three sessions:

  • Session 1: April 1-June 9
  • Session 2: June 10-August 18
  • Session 3: August 19-October 28

Applicants can apply to the first, second, or third session, applying to all three is optional.

Interns and program coordinators are paid $10/hour, with checks every 2 weeks. Please apply online at http://bit.ly/sosapply by March 1. Emailed resumes will not be accepted.

Questions can be directed to our Program Coordinators:

Sonsharae Owens – sonsharaeowensctra@gmail.com

Aaliyah Campbell – aaliyahc12@gmail.com

A Trip to Soul Fire Farm

         10156798_528057517370128_1156220593_nAs we arrived onto the farm we were welcomed with open arms from Leah her son and the staff that worked on the farm, Leah asked us to choose anything thing on the farm that best describes us, we used those things in the welcome circle and explained what and why we choose what we picked. While in the welcome circle we played a little chair game with questions about our daily uses of things helping the world. We didn’t understand at first until Leah explained how certain things we use help plants grow or takes away from its growth. As the day went on we toured the 3 acers of the land she used as the farm. It was so much to offer, beautiful rows of different kinds of kale, broccoli, collard greens and other types of greens. Next row consist of beets, carrots and other vegetables in that nature. We saw different types of green houses. They had one for eggplant and peppers. They had one for tomatoes, all kinds big juicy green one all the way down to little red grape tomatoes. There were a moveable chicken coop to fertilize the grass. They also had metal wires around the chicken coop to outsmart the deer’s in the area, the metal wiring was there to stop the deer from jumping into the area holding the live chicken stock. After touring for about a hour we ran into Leah’s husband building a garage with visitor space on the second floor for guess to sleep. Next we picked fresh fruit and vegetables for lunch. We ate a very healthy and bright lunch (white rice, fried beans, shredded cheese, salad and wraps) while we chatted and became close friends. About an hour after lunch we planted a couple of rows of different vegetables (spinach and radishes) as we teamed up with the others from different garden programs. After planting the real fun begin after learning about different reasons why people were forced off their farms back in the early 1600s. It was more exciting to reenact it and make a play out of it. As we brought the plays to an end Leahs son showed us an exciting way to plant hard to reach areas with a method he called seed bombing. First you take a nice hand full of soil and damp it with water after the soil is damp you take a handful of clay and round it into a ball. After the ball is complete we slid our fingers into the center forcing seeds into it and rounding it back closed.

July 25th  Myself  who is an Coordinator with Summer of Solutions for three years, and my cousin who is also a  interns from Summer of Solutions Hartford went on a trip to the Soul Fire Farm in Petersburg New York, a two hour trip from their home town in Hartford, CT. Before leaving Connecticut we met up with a group of strangers. These folks was not strange we just haven’t met them before, but as we approach them they were more than welcoming. I have been emailing some of these folk and the folks from the Soul Fire farm to prepare for this trip to the farm, I was truly comfortable as we was boarding the school bus with these new people we have never met and driving away from my city.  “I was shy at first and standoffish, because I didn’t know nobody” said my cousin Drashawn, “after a few hour I was relax and felt like I knew peoples for months.” Said Drashawn. These individuals we whom a leaders, farmers, and educators throughout Connecticut. During the bus ride, Drashawn and I started to Connect with Nivina, who organized this whole trip, we realize she does similar work with us, and started to connect with and discussing ways we can help out as far as our program organization.

 

If I had to say what was an important part of the field trip to the Soul Fire Farm would be learning all about farm rights in the early 1600s. Just to hear about families being force off they land for the government to build different things like parking lots and buildings on their land had me willing to learn as much as possible. Later on some of these families was rewarded with some money and some was just grateful to get their ancestors property back. Another helpful experience was from Leah’s son, his seed bombing method lets you be a kid again as you plant hard to reach areas.

“One memorable moment about the trip has to be watching Leah husband build a garage alone while we visit his home. Speaking with him has taught me so much about carpentry.”

  • Drashawn

“a memorable moment from me, was that the family was also from Hartford or the Husband at  least and he’s no living on the nice farm, with his family, and my dream is to live on with my love one, it was just inspiring and made me want succeed and live me goal”

  • Sonsharae Owens

A Wonderful Day At SoulFire Farm

It was a beautiful day being met of the bus and onto the farm. Being asked to choose any plant vegetable or fruit that best reflects you. I choose a unripened raspberry, simply because I wasn’t at my full potential in understanding what good a farms purpose was besides fresh milk and eggs! Well to my knowledge 90% of what I eat comes from a farm from dairy to veggies meat and often juice/cider. As we were greeted into a meet/greet circle to explain what we choose and why, we played a little question games that had us changing our seats as we did a lesson on what’s helps plants and soil produce and what take nutrient’s out of the soil. Later we did another exciting lesson on ownership of farms. Some people had there land stripped from them or was just simply forced to pack up and leave. Further into the years some of the families received large amounts of money while others were left empty handed. Later on in the day at SoulFire Farm we toured the property to gather information on planting groups of vegetables that worked together on fighting off certain bugs and protecting each other. Then we enjoyed tacos(white rice, refried beans and a fresh green salad with freshly picked raspberries). As the trip comes to an end we were invited to participate in seed bombing. Seed bombing is pretty awesome, its made by half clay and half soil formed with water into a ball shape. Then u gently push your finger down the center making a hole to insert the seeds. Last but not lease you air dry the seed bombs pick a destination and toss the seed bomb into desired destination and watch em grown through out time.

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