Nursing the Seedlings of the Community
Anna Farb ‘12 came to Dickinson from Columbia, Maryland. When she was applying to Dickinson, she says that she knew and was excited about the College Farm and she started volunteering through Weed n Feeds during her freshman year. Anna became a student farmer her sophomore year, where she was able to explore the many duties involved in working at the farm, her favorite chores quickly becoming double digging and watering seedlings, which may have influenced the path she took to the work she is doing now.
Anna says that her favorite crop to harvest was green onions and that her favorite place on the farm was wherever the chickens were. After graduating from Dickinson with a degree in Environmental Science, Anna became an apprentice with the College Farm, where she got to pursue her interest in working with seedlings. Between the end of her apprenticeship and now, she has worked on farms all over the country, from Colorado to Virginia to Maryland, to list a few. At these farms, she did a little bit of everything; planting, seeding, livestock and pasture care, tractor work, fencing, markets and so on.
She is now working as the nursery manager for the Howard County Maryland READY program, where she gets to apply her knowledge of seedling care daily. READY stands for Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth, which is a program that is administered by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. The Alliance is looking to expand the program to other counties in MD and even possibly bringing the program into Pennsylvania. The program’s original purpose was to provide jobs to local youth while tackling environmental challenges, with the main idea being to employ high school and college aged kids over the summer to address storm-water concerns by building rain gardens in the community. Anna’s position allows her to lead crews from the READY program in installing these rain gardens, allowing her to see the full circle of life for the plants that she is raising, much like farmers. She is thankful for the tool set that she developed at the college farm, from knowing how to dig effectively while also avoiding hurting herself and being able to be creative with the tools that you have on hand.
The nursery is located on the grounds of the county detention center, so along with balancing the responsibilities of managing the plants (purchasing, potting, seeding, etc) and leading READY crews throughout the season, Anna is also able to work with two to four inmates, twice a week, from the months of March-November. By working with Anna in the nursery, inmates are able to get about a week taken off their sentences. Anna is working with the center to develop an educational program for the inmates.
When Anna started in this position, the nursery site had not yet been developed, so she was able to use the tools and experience that she obtained from all of the farms that she had worked on to help put up fencing, build a tool shed, install irrigation, etc. Looking forward, there is much more developing to be done, with hopes of adding a high tunnel and some wet cell ponds to decrease sprinkler irrigation.
While she is not working for a farm currently, Anna is still involved in and supporting the local food movement as she is a member of a CSA as well as a local farm co-op.
We are so very proud of the leader that Anna has become in her community and are excited to see where life takes her. Keep up the great work, Anna!