Food and Discovery

By: Allison Guertler

Location: Middleton, WI

Coming from a student that just graduated from college, the world is a scary place. I took three years of Food Science before I decided it was not for me and graduated with Community and Environmental Sociology. No longer did I want to work in a food lab and create food for companies, but instead I wanted to get my hands dirty and work with those that make it happen. Growing Foods and Sustainably has given me this chance and they offered me what one of our little campers likes to call it: Farming School.

Campers at "Farming School"

Campers at “Farming School”

With only two weeks left of our summer, I have learned a great deal and have a better picture of what I want to do after this. This garden allowed for me to learn how to care for many different plants; ranging from I have never heard of this too Yum! But how do I grow it? We were taught how to trellis and prune tomatoes, mound potatoes, rotate crops, and currently learned this week how to save seeds from tomatoes.

Not only did I learn how to do many gardening techniques but I also learned how hard it is to keep it. There is the constant weeding of course but also the fight against plant diseases. We were able to harvest some peas but not many till most turned brown and wilted: a crop we had to end up pulling up and reseed. There is also the constant pest problem. Catching Japanese beetles is one of the camper’s favorite gardening activities and until our fence was put up early on we had bunnies eating our broccoli. Some plants therefore had to be planted later while waiting for the fence, causing an even later start to our season. This led me to pay attention to weather. I now check my weather app at least three times a day when I am out at that garden. Fighting off the rain or the excessive heat week we had in July was a tough battle and great learning experience. I did not realize how much it rained or how hot it was until I had to be out there every day. Not only that, but how hard it was to be out there trying to keep the crops alive.

Our abundant farmers market stand

Our abundant farmers market stand

With two weeks left in my internship, I have come to realize the many struggles of farming but also the many joys. Our harvest has become plentiful as well as our sales at the local farmers market. Our construction crew is putting together new raised beds for our outdoor classroom and planning for the Harvest Festival is in full swing! It will also be our last week for campers for the summer and I don’t think it could have gone better! ‘Tis the Season!

1045130_10151742579183698_2084884659_nAuthor: Allison Guertler recently graduated from UW-Madison. In addition to being a summer intern at GFS, she is also an amazing salsa maker!

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