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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Season Ends but Leadership is Still Growing

Well, it’s the end of another season and once again the feelings are bittersweet. Looking back over the last 8-9 months I can’t believe all we have accomplished. While I’d like to think it’s a tribute to my amazing leadership, the truth is my team was even more amazing! Everything we did was because of their hard work, determination and loyalty.

Julie Battaille and Tyler Delsart returned for a second season and were my right and left hands this summer. Rebecca Wasserman-Olin joined us after a couple of years farming in Madison and made a great addition to the team. Together the three made up our Apprentice Program. They started the season in March and Julie is still here! Throughout the season I watched them grow not only as farmers but as leaders, thinkers and beautiful humans. They continuously surprised me with their never ending energy and excitement for the gardens, markets and events. Whether it was hot and humid or cold and rainy this team held it together, never complained and got the job done.

Hoa Dao joined us in April from Vietnam and Monica Hanson from Waukesha joined us a couple weeks later. We had a few others this season in our Intern Program, including Nguyen Nguyen, also from Vietnam. He was able to join us at the end of the season, just in time to help with our first farm to table. This group was equally fabulous. By the end of the season Hoa and Monica were stepping up and taking on leadership roles whether it was planning what to harvest or organizing for the market. Thinking back to our orientation day at the end of April I can hardly recognize the extraordinary people they have become. They might have started a little shy, and maybe the crates were a little heavy or the work a little difficult, but that’s no more! Just the other day, I saw Hoa pick up and carry crates, which had to weigh almost as much as she does, with such ease that I had to laugh. I wish I had a time machine to go back to that first day and show them all they would accomplish.

I’ve commented before about how rewarding it is to be a farmer and grow food for people, but I honestly think the best part of this job is my students. I learn so much from them each and every day. Watching them grow in strength and self-confidence is such an awesome experience. Now as they slowly leave me to return to their lives all over the world, I’m struck with a sadness I wasn’t expecting. There’s always a bittersweet feeling at the end of the season. You’re finally done with early mornings packing for the market, and harvesting, weeding, etc. But you’re also done with the challenges, strategizing and team building. This year’s crew went above and beyond all my goals and expectations. I’m truly going to miss each and every one of them!