Farm Friday: They Grow Like Weeds!

Well, the buses have come and gone, campers and parents have shared their tearful goodbyes, and Surprise Lake Camp has sprouted 400+ farmers, environmentalists, and activists for a healthy planet.  Their excitement about year two of the farm is quite evident.  Many have expressed amazement over the height of our vegetables and fruit.  Our grape vines are a full ten feet taller than they were a year ago at this time.

Even more impressive is the obvious growth of the campers.  Children, some who seemed like babies a year ago, have turned into big kids; many adolescents have shot up into teenagers, and some of last year’s teens appear to have morphed into young men and women.  It’s incredible, and always exciting to see.

You know, one of the things we are most proud of on the farm is our encouragement of native weeds.  Weeds get a bad rap in our culture–they are too often thought of as nothing more than nuisances to be removed from our lawns and gardens, fit only for eradication with products produced by large chemical companies bent on convincing the world that weeds are our enemies.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Indigenous weeds are critical components of ecosystems.  They are essential to a balance of nature that affects, birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators which we depend on.  Right now, just outside the fence of our vegetable garden, tall spear thistles, are in full bloom, their lovely purple flowers attracting fritillary, cabbage white and swallowtail butterflies, stunning goldfinches, and scores of bees.  Many of these, our partners on the farm, are flying through and over the fence to pollinate our tomatoes, squash, and zucchini which are also in bloom right now.  The mayweed, with its delicate white and yellow flowers, are dressing up the back fence that overlooks the pool.  So many of our native weeds are truly a joy to behold if only allowed to grow to maturity.

All this provides an important learning opportunity for our campers.  First and foremost, it reinforces the important lesson that balance is the key to protecting our resources and providing healthy ecosystems that are in tune with the natural order.  Such lessons are at the core of what we do here.

Call me a radical environmentalist, determined to brainwash these kids into caring for the environment, but spraying Round-up on weeds is not my idea of the natural order of things.

Until next week, Stay Dirty

Farmer Alan

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