"You give them something to eat" – Jesus of Nazareth
Thursday, August 8
This week marks a transition time for the 5 Loaves Farm staff as we have said good bye to Charissa Maleachi, and enter the last week of work for our summer youth staff as well. They all have brought such a unique, diverse, and vital set of skills that have helped the farm grow.
Charissa came to us last September as a part of the Buffalo Urban Ministry Partnership (BUMP). Originally from Indonesia, she had just finished up studies at Houghton College before coming to serve with the Buffalo Vineyard Church and 5 Loaves Farm. BUMP provides people interested in urban ministry a chance to work at a church or non-profit serving the city, weekly classes that help them learn about the context and theology that underpins this work, and a place to live in community with a group of people they are working and learning alongside.
Charissa brought amazing talents of organization, administration, graphic design, and photography to the farm. During the slower winter months she helped us organize farm systems, especially around marketing and youth events. Her amazing artistic eye proved invaluable creating graphics for the farm, and capturing the beauty she found growing all around her in the garden. Some of her photography was featured in our Art on the Farm fundraiser this summer, as well as throughout this post. She always approached her work with such curiosity and wonder for how the living systems around the farm grow and sustain themselves. We were so blessed by her wondering about, cultivating, celebrating, and creating beauty here at 5 Loaves Farm.
At the end of the summer last year, our assistant farm manager, Seth Brown, said to me, “The farm is at it’s best when our youth employees are here.” This is so true! The youth make the farm come alive… they definitely help keep it alive too! They put in countless hours working in the hot sun, or even on rainy days, planting, weeding, watering, weeding, harvesting, and oh yeah, weeding the gardens. But while doing this they bring their music, humor, unique perspectives on the world, delicious foods, experiences from growing food with their families, and even a little relational drama, each helping spice up the experience of working on the farm.
While they bring so much to us at the farm, we also hope to give back to them, teaching them valuable skills while with us. We do this through playing fun team building games, having fun on trips to Darien Lake as well as to other urban and rural farms, and partnering with 716 Ministries to offer them a Work Readiness Program. This program pairs them with adults to help coach them in developing the soft skills necessary to be successful in this job along with all the other jobs they go onto in the future.
We believe that seeds of hope have been planted within each of them, and we want them to grow to be successful and fruitful. We teach them that along the way we have to take responsibility for our own actions, while also recognizing our connection to each other, learning how to look out for and depend on each other. We learn how just like manure is composted into fertilizer, even the hard situations and circumstance we come across in life can be redeemed and help us grow stronger. We hope to inspire them that when they meet their goals, and harvest the rewards of their hard work, that they’ll be generous, recognizing they didn’t get there alone, and that there are others that need them to share the blessings they’ve received along the way.
This Sunday, at the Buffalo Vineyard Church (175 Potomac Ave) at 10:30am, we’ll be celebrating their time on the farm, and the skills they’ve both acquired and shared, and you’re more than welcome to join us in celebrating with them.
Growing a garden we’re reminded of the eternal cycles that surround us, and that transitions aren’t true endings, but just mark the passage into a new season. We know that Charissa will be successful as she moves back to Indonesia and into new ventures and opportunities. And we are excited about the youth, some of whom are going on to college and other new experiences, while others will be joining us again in just a few weeks as we begin our fall internships on the farm. We hope the best for all of them in whatever the next season has to bring!