Open Collective
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'Whats Update'
Published on December 21, 2023 by Katharine Michael

 

Three Questions


1. What did you accomplish during 2023? How did you use money?

 This year we accomplished quite a few things with a relatively small budget and a small group of active volunteers. We implemented a garden design that allowed us to readily see what tasks were most immediate and which crops required harvesting.  We implemented an effective watering system that also allowed participation from our youngest members. Implementation of a new garden design: Heart garden, and outer fields, trees and shrubs planted, herbs maintained, several thousand pounds of food harvested and distributed within the community: directly to members, through KACS food bank, and through Food for All Wilmington. We also invested in improving our deer fence - it has been successful at keeping the deer out, but is still a little lightweight for the long term and will require further improvements. We also installed lower maintenance permanent pathways with the help of landscape fabric. 

Otherwise the money went to maintaining our liability insurance as well as garden operations: planting stock, some seeds and some new tools. 

We were able to source many seeds and seedlings through in-kind donations from seed companies and through the regional foodbank. We operate on a very minimal budget made up of membership contributions from our active members.  We are growing a sense of community - sharing responsibilities, decision making power, while staying effective and smooth in our operations. 



2. What challenges did you face during 2023? What did your Collective learn? How did you change or grow? 

One of the challenges faced was finding the time to show up and choosing what to prioritize during that time. This looked like figuring out how to coordinate tasks between volunteers coming to the farm on different days. We learned to communicate more effectively with each other through Basecamp. At certain points in the growing season, timely harvesting and planting was difficult. We embraced our imperfections, focused on our achievements, and planned for the future growing season.

Another challenge we faced was that  one of our most knowledgeable members was away for an extended period visiting family in the summer. Several of our members stepped into their roll(s) and learned new skills and took on larger responsibilities than we had prior. We discovered our hidden strengths and found a deeper connection to our place in the collective. We gained a better understanding of how to share and communicate needs of the farm and to allow members to come and go as needed without negative results or guilt. It was at time also difficult to keep up with the harvest!


We learned to make space for each other’s physical abilities, availability, interest in projects, and desire to step into leadership roles. In coming together for our fall celebratory meal, we realized that the strength of our collective lies in the strong sense of community and support we give to each other. For future growth, we will focus on strengthening the community, not just increasing the labor pool.


3. What are your plans for 2024? Anything exciting coming up?

We are looking forward to developing a youth mentorship program (Finding avenues to engage youth of various ages is high on our list and we are creating strategies to enable that to occur), establishing partnership with a local youth center and developing youth-led projects such as a flower garden or a micro chicken operation. We also just received a grant to produce educational short videos. We are looking forward to getting to work on this, sharing skills and knowledge with members new and old as well as with the general public. Another idea to implement is planning and developing a natural dye plant garden as well as creating knowledge shares for processing and using the plants. Completing the paths and creating sitting areas throughout the farm.  I have lots of ideas and hope to work alongside our group to bring some nature to the public. 

We will continue to explore and strengthen community connections to further our reach and effectiveness. We will continue to build on our communications with the partner (Kennett Township) who sponsor our access to the land. We look forward to the many unknown-at-this-time friends and supporters we will meet in the coming year.

One member says  "I had never participated before in the vital role of preparing land for growing, watching the sprouts grow into tall plants and then tending carefully as they matured. More so, my child was able to witness this miraculous process along side me. We would love to show up early Tuesday raspberries or cherry tomatoes before getting to work. One of the greatest gifts of the land is the peace stillness in it creates." Some of us have brought our children to the farm to learn and I think all of us caregivers look forward to the new year to continue modeling and working with them in this endeavor together!



 
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