camper in garden

By Caroline Golden, farm intern

The last day of a Treetops summer finally arrived. Supers held each other tightly as they sniffed back farewell-for-now tears. As I watched counselors hug their campers goodbye, it was unclear who had touched whose lives more this summer. I empathized with a tiny Junior Camper’s heartfelt sniffles over the upcoming school year apart.

I was that Junior Camper, a long time ago. A year away might as well have been a lifetime. On the farm, it is an odd time for endings. The daily work continues as always. The pigs are unfazed by this dramatic population shift. There is weeding to be done. Most notably, the beans, cucumbers, potatoes, beets and squash are in full production mode, and bushel baskets are bursting with morning harvests. Our annual flowerbed is growing ever taller, and the giant single sunflower heads have made way for multiple smaller sunny faces. Our tomato plants are creeping toward the greenhouse ceiling; soon we will lay them out on the floor to collar them back up to a reachable height.

But oh, the taste of a deep red, juicy tomato is the only reminder we ever need of our purpose here on this farm. This food, this crisp and sweet, wholesome and tasty food that started as so many tiny seeds, and the collective work that sustained it, is what feeds our community. Both Junior and Senior Camps enjoyed an end-of-summer Farm Banquet, featuring a multi-course meal comprised almost exclusively of the fruits of our collective labor. Garden and Community Morning teams helped pull the weeds that threatened our growing produce. Campers and counselors hauled many heavy water buckets to our hogs, whose meat was the main feature of one Banquet. The Garden Harvest workjob crew helped collect the bounty that graced our tables. Not least of all, the tireless kitchen staff prepared an unforgettable feast, adorned with homegrown nasturtiums, which we all shared in gratitude. I was proud to stand in front of a room full of well-dressed and well-fed people, to thank them for their unique contributions to such a magical meal.

I have learned much on the Treetops farm this summer. I can competently use wire strippers. I can operate a tractor. I know that tomato plants must be watered from underneath, as wetness on their leaves can quickly spread disease. I can identify edible weeds, and I can name (nearly) all the flower varieties in Helen Haskell’s annual flowerbed. As my own summer experience draws to a close and I reflect on all I have learned, one thing stands out most brightly: I now have a deep understanding of the process of growing food, from seed to salad and I have had the honor and privilege of teaching this invaluable process to children. Assuredly, this time my departing tears will be of gratitude, and of reverence for both.