Saturday April 30, 2016

This spring our fields have been full of lettuces & field mix, but they’ve also been full of neighborhood youth helping grow these & many other crops.


Working with youth reminds me of the same hope that spring brings…  I see growth & so much potential for what is to come.  I see the beauty that is just blooming right now & have hope for the fruit to come…  I also see the potential hazards; this creeping in over here, or that pesky thing to watch out for over there.

So here are some highlights of how we are cultivating the good things growing, & working tirelessly to weed out what needs to be pulled up.

First let’s highlight our youth…  We have three spring youth interns, Shar, Bhawana, & Jimmy (who’s back for his fourth year at 5 Loaves Farm!).  We go right at the root of apathy & the temptations of the street by empowering these teens to become a part of a gang of positive change agents in their neighborhood.

All of them will be working with West Side Ministries job readiness program to cultivate the job skills needed to obtain & hold down good jobs.  All of these youth have also connected with us through our involvement in after school programs, like Hope Refugee Services’ high school after school program.  This longer term investment in their lives allows us to not only plant seeds for the future, but nurture & cultivate them as they begin to grow.

5LF has also had visits from school groups, with many more planned throughout the spring months. We’re working with Tapestry Charter SchoolWest Buffalo Charter School, & the after school group at Urban Christian Ministries.  Through these visits, we cultivate that sense of wonder in the beauty of the created world, & inspire care for it in creative & compassionate ways.

Along with these good things growing in our youth, we’ve been out in our fields cultivating good healthy food for our neighborhood as well. Before we get to our frost free season (which in Buffalo isn’t officially until 5/23) our fields start to fill with cold season crops like: spring field mix, onions, garlic, cabbages, broccoli, & hearty greens (spinach, chard, collards, etc.).  Our field mix consists of baby lettuces, spinach, arugula, mustard, & kale.  Using more flavorful lettuce varieties, & adding the mustards for a hint of spice, has made this mix a hit with the chef’s at Vera Pizzeria in Elmwood Village, & the Gourmet Store downtown.

The cabbages growing this year are a mix of classic green cabbages (Golden Acres & Copenhagen),

red (Integro & Red Express), and napa cabbage (Bilko).  Our spring broccoli is an heirloom variety (DiCicco) that yields lots of smaller heads.  Our fall varieties will have more of the large full head form we’re used to in the supermarkets.  And our cooking greens, that are packed full of nutrients & fiber, & are so good for us, we provide as a staple throughout the growing season.  Spring brings Rainbow Swiss Chard (more color means more antioxidants!), spinach, collards, everyone’s favorite – wink – mustard greens, & everyone’s real favorite, kale.

So, we enter the last month before farmer’s markets & CSA farm share pick-up begin with the hope that our work cultivating & weeding will pay off.  We also want all our supporters to invest in 5 Loaves Farm knowing you are helping cultivate hope in our neighborhood’s youth!

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