*I am posting this blog for Anderson, who is currently in Minnesota*
A couple of weeks ago my fellow interns and I had the opportunity to head up to Edmonton to learn from Ryan and Cathryn at Reclaim Urban Farms once again. Since it was my first time going up, I was excited to see what we would be doing and meet Ryan and Cathryn in person. We arrived at the SPUD (Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery) distribution centre where Reclaim rents a small corner to grow all of their micro greens, as well as do some of their processing of produce. Ryan and Cathryn arrived a little late as they had started bright and early at 6 am to do some harvesting at some of the other sites so we would have some produce to start getting ready for the farmers market.
Ryan showed Kate and me upstairs where we would work harvesting and packaging micro greens. Carley was downstairs with Cathryn to start washing all the salad greens and some of the micro greens as well.
We spent the rest of the day learning about farmers market preparation and all that it entailed: different weeds that we had to take out of the salad greens during the washing process, the three sinks each green needed to go through; what micro green planting, harvesting, and packaging looked like; and the importance of proper sanitation (read: washing ALOT of grow trays). I learned that although growing plants is a lot of work, that isn’t where the process stops. There is a massive amount of time that goes into the harvesting, processing, and packaging the produce–and it has to happen pretty much every week! We finished u a long day of washing and packaging, and headed back home for some rest before we returned the next day to get back at it.
The next day, we woke up bright and early again to meet back at Cathryn’s house, where we continued washing a myriad of different vegetables as well as weighing and packaging many more.
All of this has certainly affected the way I look at a bag of salad at the market! It is not just the planting, growing, and harvesting, but hours of harvesting, separating, washing, drying, weighing, packaging, and selling…it is no easy task.
After finishing the last of the prepping and packaging for the farmers market the following day, we headed to a new site, where the skeleton of a greenhouse and landscaping fabric were already in place. There, we spent our time transplanting broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, and squash–and a lot of it! We also helped to put up the plastic for the greenhouse, and it was crazy how quickly it got warmer inside after just some of it was up.
It was interesting to see the interactions with the community and the urban farm as people walked by. Many of them asked questions and seemed excited about the reclaimed use of vacant lots and spaces within the city; in such a high-visibility area, it was great to see that people wanted to ask questions and interact with some of the ideas behind Reclaim Urban Farm.
All of these two days left me far more appreciative of the food I purchase and the work that goes into it, with a new excitement about the possibility of potentially adapting the program/model to Camrose, with a better understanding of how Reclaim works…and, incredibly tired!