My name is Kelly. I was born and raised in Washington, DC. Then moved to Chicago for school. Now currently living in Baltimore. I have claimed that I will always and forever be a city girl, but despite this fact I have become a farmer. Yes you read it right, a farmer. I am currently working as the farmhand/farm assistant at Great Kids Farm in Catonsville, MD. I have always been passionate about food policy and food justice after my first college course entitled Discover Chicago: Food, which turned out to be about the food issues in our society (not trying all the amazing restaurants Chicago has to offer). In this change of coursework I found my true calling in my life. –Connecting people to their food-
After much studying, discussions and readings, I felt that I could only go so far with what I have read in a book and talked about with fellow classmates. Learning how to actually grow my own food is what I needed to know before I could progress any further on solving the issues I see in our Food System today. Episcopal Service Corps-MD gave me the unique opportunity to allow me to explore this new knowledge I hoped to gain through a year of discernment in an intentional community.
Now I have been the farm assistant for five months and boy how my life changed-in both the daily happenings as well as what my role is meant to be in fight for Food Justice. In terms of my daily life, I have transitioned from waking up, going to Starbucks, reading my coursework and bumming around on Pintrest to waking up, drinking tea out of one of many mason jars I have accumulated, arriving to the farm and checking on Goats, watering micro greens, checking on our seedlings and other vegetables on the farm, dumping compost into the pile, checking temperatures of our compost and recording them and so much more that I could have never even anticipated. After five months as a farmer, I think I have done more different tasks each day than I have ever done my whole life. Who would’ve thought I would be able to help repair a deer fence? Or deliver 255 bags of soils to different schools? Carry an 80lbs bag of cement? Haul produce in and out of coolers to be washed then processed? Coordinate garden deliveries to schools? Work with high school students to get produce into their cafeterias? And I could keep going on and on.
As you can see my life has become quite different than I am used to, but this dramatic shift has allowed me to grow as a person, deepen my understanding of my true passion in life and truly help me define the role I am meant to play in the fight Food Justice and Great Kids Farm has done all of this for me. This place has not only taught me how to grow food, they have shown me how integral our students are in the way we are changing the way we see food in their cafeterias. Being able to have not only fresh produce on BCPS salad bars, but also organic and grown by BCPS students is what truly makes the impact. Our food is so much more than something on our plate; it has the power to connect students that might never actually meet, by connecting them through the carrots, beets and cabbages on another student’s plate. Great Kids knows the importance of this essential relationship and has been illustrating this every day to me and those students at lunchtime. I now know and understand that I must strive to be more connected to building that relationship between students and the farm and I thank the Great Kids Farm staff and volunteers for helping me discern this for myself.