A Letter from Womanswork friend Maria Reade:
Over the past twelve months I have spent as much time as possible working down the road at Cascade Farm, soaking up whatever Ashley and Josh, the young farmers who run the place, could teach me.
This past summer, a group of Trinity-Pawling boys served as dedicated farm hands. In June, it became clear that Ashley and Josh needed help harvesting the vegetables from the fields. However, they had no extra money for wages. Fully aware that their labor would result in nothing more than good will, some time outdoors, and perhaps a bag of the day’s freshly picked produce, a.k.a. “harvest pay,” my summer heroes showed up weekly to pitch in. Their steadfast contributions allowed the farm to keep functioning. The numbers of volunteers ranged from three to eight or nine on any given Wednesday. After convening at the barn at 9 AM, we hopped in the back of the beat-up farm truck and bumped our way along the rutted dirt road to the fields.
While the work was definitely hard at times and even mind-numbingly dull at other points, we all had a great time.
The joys were simple. Popping a sweet pea direct from the tendril into your mouth or munching on a piece of tender broccoli. “So this is what it’s supposed to taste like!” One boy cradled in his hand an egg he had found in the chicken coop: “It’s still warm…” We would gather at a wooden table on the shady porch of the barn and eat lunch, a welcome respite after a morning in the hot sun. Country music actually sounded okay, not corny, when pouring out of the truck parked in the field. We toiled among the long rows, working in twos or threes and catching up on summer stories. At the end of his first day at the farm, one boy surveyed the pastoral scene and said earnestly, “This ought to be required for every kid.”
I do not know if or how these experiences will influence these boys. It may take years to tell. But I suspect that at some point in their life, they may utter the magical words, “I used to volunteer on a farm…” I hope the memories are strong and sweet.
Maria Buteux Reade, Dean
Pawling, New York