It is hard to believe that my eight weeks at Shelburne Farms have come to a close. I really felt like it flew by. I became a part of the Shelburne Farms family and for that I am thankful. It was such an amazing opportunity to work with such inspiring and positive people. I could not have asked for a better way to spend my summer.

I had the ability to dive into anything that I was interested at the farm. I was welcomed with open arms and learned so much. This was such an amazing experience. I grew as a person and also found a new passion of mine. I love to farm. I always found farming intriguing but I did not realize how much bliss and happiness it brought to me. I really loved the time that I spent at the market garden. Sustainable agriculture is an ever-evolving field and I was just able to experience part of that over the summer.

Teaching with the environmental educators was great as well! I was able to see how they utilize Shelburne Farms and truly engage kids in understanding the importance of the different aspects of wildlife and nature found on the farm. A leading question throughout most of the camps was, “what nourishes you?” I definitely found what nourishes me throughout this wonderful internship. I learned that spending lots of time outdoors not only nourishes me but teaches me. I also realized that nature as a whole nourishes each and every one of us. Many people rush through their lives and don’t truly take a moment to think about what makes them happy. If anything I learned that whatever I go on to do with my life I want to feel nourished. I want to do what makes me happy.

Thank you to everyone at Shelburne Farms (educators, cheese makers, and market garden farmers). It was such a treat and pleasure to work with you all. I will be back, this is not goodbye. It is a see you later. I hope that you all have enjoyed my blog posts and learning about what I have been doing this summer! I’ll leave you with some pictures from my last week at camp.

 

Live, laugh love

~Ilana

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Written on August 18th, 2014 , Uncategorized

This week I had the opportunity to do things at the farm that I have not gotten the chance to during my internship. I decided to go back to the market garden and spend a day making cheese. It was a fantastic week!

Shelburne Farms is known for their cheddar cheese. They use raw milk from brown swiss cows. The reason that the milk from the brown swiss cow is desirable is because their milk has the ideal fat to protein ratio for cheese- making. Spending the day making cheese was amazing! I am really glad I decided to check it out. Making cheese is no easy    task. My cheese making day consisted of 12 steps and took about 9 hours total.

The cheese makers arrive at the farm at 6:45 a.m. They have to go retrieve the milk from the dairy, which is hauled up to the cheese making area in a tank on a truck. The milk is then pumped into a huge vat. This vat is where the magic happens. Around 4,000 pounds of milk is delivered, which in the end produces about 500 pounds of cheese. The milk is warmed to about 90 degrees and then the culture is added to help develop the sharp cheddar flavor as the cheese ages. After about 30 mins rennet is added. The rennet coagulates the milk into a firm, tofu-like consistency. It felt so funny. cheese maker Zach and Sam used wire knives to cut the milk/cheese into quarter inch cubes. 90% of the milk separates out as water whey, leaving curds. The whey is drained and used as fertilizer on the farms fields. The curds begin to form into firm packs. The packs are cut into slabs, and then the slabs are stack on top of each other until 5-high. When the acidification is at the proper point the cheese is milled into fingers and salt is mixed in to further bacteria development. Well balanced cheddar has a salt content of 1.6%. The fingers are poured into hoops and pressed overnight. The cheese is aged (6 months to 3 years) and then comes packaging.

I was able to be involved in the entire process i have just described. Many people think cheese making is so cool. Yes, it is cool but also a lot of hard work and precision. There are so many times throughout the day where the cheese makers can miss a step and ruin the process. I found cheese making to be a kind of dance. All of the steps are so a part of their daily routine. It was just beautiful to see how in one day we made cheese that will eventually be eaten. It was such a pleasure to work with the cheese makers and learn about what goes into one block of yummy cheddar cheese.

I also worked at the market garden this week, which was amazing as always. I got to harvest a lot of food (seaberries, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, carrots, and strawberries).  I had a really interesting conversation with Josh the head farmer about GMOs and organic produce. We were planting strawberry runners, which are the flowers that grow on a strawberry plant. On the box of runners it said fruit product, but nowhere did it say organic. These runners had been sprayed with pesticides. We began talking and I learned that if the organic product that you are looking for is not in season or you cannot find what you are looking for you can buy it conventionally but call it organic. Josh can call the strawberries he is going to grow organic because from here on out on his farm they will be grown organically. Also, his point of view on GMOs was really interesting. He said that in America we need GMOs because of poverty. The UK is banning GMOs because they don’t have as many people going hungry.

It was really great to hear Josh’s opinions on GMOs and learn more about organic farming. I loved making cheese and I wish I could spend more time there. This summer has really flown by, I cannot believe it’s almost over! I have a few pictures from the garden and farm but none from cheese making because it is extremely important that your hands are completely clean and sanitized.

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Written on August 10th, 2014 , Uncategorized

Hello friends and family!

 

It is getting down to the last few weeks of my internship. I have been extremely lucky to be interning at such a wonderful place. I love all of the people I work with and I am constantly inspired and motivated. I have realized how much of an amazing journey life is and I’m so glad that interning at Shelburne Farms has been a part of it.

Through the grant that Dickinson has given me I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with so many experienced and fun educators that are passionate about working with kids and exploring the outdoors. This past week a lot of fun things happened. Miss Piggy gave birth to nine piglets. The piglets are so cute. It was so amazing to see the kids around the new born babies and how respectful they were. There was absolutely no talking because miss piggy needed her rest after the pregnancy.

The weather was a bit more unpredictable this week.  Everyone was extremely positive and we still did really fun things with the kids. One of the days it rained for awhile in the afternoon. We headed into the forest and made a fire and roasted marshmallows. It was great that everyone was so excited to be outdoors even though the weather was not sunny and warm. It was really interesting to learn about the different ways to build a fire. We made a fire using the “A-frame” method. Now, when I go camping I could set up a fire anywhere!

Only two weeks left at my internship. I am really going to miss Vermont and beautiful Shelburne Farms.

 

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Written on August 4th, 2014 , Uncategorized

Hello hello!!

This past week i was involved with the Discover the Farm camp. The kids ages in the camp ranged from 6-9. The question for the week was what nourishes you? Throughout the week each day had a theme that we would tie into this question. Monday (food), Tuesday (water), Wednesday (shelter), Thursday (community) and Friday (joy). In the beginning of the week two educators were assigned to a group. Throughout the week In our small group we got to explore different areas of the farm. In my group there were 10 kids. In the morning we got to go on small adventures and for some of the afternoons we went to the lake to swim , or had a choice time (farm, feast, find). This week was a bit tough for me because my family was in town visiting so I had to really manage my time well.

 

The highlights this week for me were having a little more freedom with older aged kids and getting to explore more of the farm. I got to milk a cow one of the days, which was really great! I also have become a pro at catching frogs. Being around a lot of farm animals has been really great. I am kind of afraid of flying animals but my fear of chickens has left.

 

I now have 3 weeks left of my internship and so I have been thinking a lot about things that I would really love to continue doing after I am done at Shelburne Farms and after I graduate. I have been looking into being a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) volunteer. It would be a great experience to farm in another country and explore farming as a career option.

 

 

Written on July 26th, 2014 , Uncategorized

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Hello Beautiful people!!

It has been yet another wonderful week at Shelburne Farms. I worked with the Adventures-half day camp again, which was awesome! I love working with little kids but boy is it hard work. It was a very exhausting week but a lot of fun. We got to explore a lot of places on the farm and eat yummy raspberries, peas, carrots and tomatoes from the garden.

It never ceases to amaze me how much enthusiasm these kids have. They absolutely love being at the farm! Everything is so exciting to them. One of my favorite parts of this week was catching a frog. I had never caught a frog before so this was awesome! There are animals and creatures everywhere. I admire the kids for their excitement and joy of life and nature. The kids really enjoyed picking up chickens and feeding them. We also got to help farmer Josh in the garden.z

This week i  got to teach some parts of circle time, which was a lot of fun. We made a plant, which consisted of beans (seed), carrots (roots), celery (stem), mint (leaves), broccoli (flower) and raspberries (plant). Being able to teach a part of the lesson gave me a greater understanding of the material being taught. This next week i will be working at a different camp and i am excited about all the new things i will learn.

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Written on July 21st, 2014 , Uncategorized

This past week  i worked with students in the 6th-8th grade from the Sara Holbrook Community Center. Sara Holbrook was founded in 1937 and serves as a community center for a diverse population of families that have just arrived into the Burlington area. Many of the students that i met were from Nepal, Congo, Kenya, Indonesia and more. In the morning the students came to Shelburne Farms. We planned a lot of fun things for them to do. I worked with Christie and Reina for the week. They are both such wonderful people! The theme that the kids were learning about in school was force and motion. We tried to tie that into a lot of things around the farm.

The first day we spent some time at the dairy. The students really enjoyed this. They were able to milk a cow, pet the newly born cows and help with some chores. After, we made some home made butter, which turned out great! The second day we spent in the garden. The students picked carrots, raspberries, peas, and peppers. We then hiked up to the highest part of the farm, where they had time to journal about all the things we had been doing. The last day they were with us we split up into smaller groups and visited different animals at the farm barn . I was in charge of going to the chickens. I really enjoyed splitting up into the smaller groups because i really got to know the students i was with. I had a group of all girls. They girls loved chasing around and picking up the chickens. Many of the students grew up on farms or had animals. It was really awesome to hear their stories and get to know them more. Before they had to leave we made some homemade ice cream and spent some time by the lake.

This week was really rewarding for me because i found it truly inspiring to meet these students from all over the world.Through the grant that Dickinson is providing me with i am able to have these wonderful experiences . The students have been uprooted from their homelands and are still embracing where they are. They had a lot of respect for the farm animals and workers. I realized that i like working with people from other countries because you get to hear their stories and experiences. It is amazing how much you can learn.

 

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Written on July 12th, 2014 , Uncategorized

It has been another amazing week!! This week i got to try out being a farmer. My curiosity into farming and sustainable agriculture truly stemmed from my amazing experience studying abroad in Denmark. At my host families house we had a garden where we grew potatoes, raspberries, different types of lettuce, and carrots. I love eating local and it was amazing being able to go into the backyard and pick out something to eat. While i was there i helped till the soil with some manure from a local farmer. We got the  soil ready for some potatoes to go in after i left. Anyways, back to being a farmer this week…

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On Monday i helped out with some chores around the farm and then in the afternoon i started helping out at the market garden. The market garden at Shelburne Farms is truly an amazing place full of fun, energetic and inspiring people who love their job. It takes a lot of hard work to be a farmer, but at the end of the day i felt so accomplished and excited about all the work we were doing . The garden is a 7-acre mixed vegetable and flower garden that produces many organic vegetable that are then used at The Inn on the farms property. Josh is in charge of the garden and in the morning he would tell us what needed to be done for the day and then we would set off to do various tasks. I got to work closely with Callie, Ingrid, and Emily who are all full time seasonal staff at the garden. I also got to work  with other interns; Christine, Pippa, and Hannah.

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A farm day starts at 6 a.m. and typically goes until around 3 or 4 p.m. A long day to say the least! Throughout the week i got to harvest vegetables, cultivate, seed, prune at the vineyard, weed, and irrigate. I also got to feed the pigs and move the chicken house. In addition to all of these activities we had an educational piece where Josh gave us a run down of how he preps the soil before a new plant is put and the tools used. The vegetables we harvested throughout the week include: carrots, cucumbers, beets, beans, fennel, and kohlrabi. We also harvested boomy berries, currants, and the last of the strawberries for ourselves.  unnamed-12 unnamed-14 unnamed-15

Basil and Amaranth i planted!

Basil and Amaranth i planted!

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Goomy berries

Goomy berries

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currants!

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Lettuce we planted

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Harvesting that needed to be done for the day!

Harvesting that needed to be done for the day!

It was great knowing that all this food was going straight to the inn for people to eat. Farming is a full time job, almost like having a kid. It needs your attention all the time because if not then the food will not grow right. I was amazed at everything that goes into a full day of farming.

After a long day of farming the staff was allowed to take fresh produce home. It was great to be able to take fresh fruits and veggies home that i picked myself. A week of farming was truly an amazing experience that i will never forget. I am still interested in doing something with sustainable agriculture. If there’s anything that i would like to convey through this post is that knowing where your food comes from is important. I know eating local is expensive but be mindful. I hope you enjoy my pictures! Stay tuned 🙂

 

Written on July 5th, 2014 , Uncategorized

 

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Hello friends and family!!

This summer i am interning at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont for a total of 8 weeks. My internship is titled Farm-based Education internship. I will be getting to work with kids ranging from ages 4- 12. The farm is such an amazing place that not only has an education center but a market garden and a farm barn for everyone to enjoy. The farm in total is 1,400 acres. On the campus there is a nonprofit education organization and is a National Historic Landmark on the shore of Lake Champlain.

 

This past week i got to work with the pre-school kids in the Adventures Camp. It was a lot of fun. Each day there was a theme that we would introduce, which would involved some fun activities. The themes included: beans, wheat, veggies, trees and cattails. The layout of the day was the same and whether it be rain or shine the kids were in for some fun. I think one of my favorite parts of helping out in the camps was how excited and energized all of the staff and students were. The kids attending the camp were so excited to be on the farm and to learn. It was awesome to see that! It’s such an amazing thing to watch kids work in the garden, hold a chicken and embrace everything that is around them.

 

A  goal for my first week of interning was to really become aware of my surroundings and to learn and listen to the environmental educators around me. Working with Christine, Claire, Kestrel and Perry was amazing! They are all such wonderful people and we all worked really well together.

 

One of the highlights for me this week was going to the farm barn with the kids because i got to hold a chicken and the students pet him. I have always been afraid of birds so this was a big deal for me to be holding a chicken. I also really loved seeing how respectful and kind the students were to the farm animals. I am so excited for the next few weeks of my internship and all that i will gain from the amazing experience.

 

Below I have added some photos of some of the things we did around the farm. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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The week schedule

The week schedule

Students working in the garden and picking baby carrots!

Students working in the garden and picking baby carrots!

 

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Written on June 28th, 2014 , Uncategorized

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Farm-Based Education Internship

Shelburne Farms, VT