Yesterday was Thanksgiving, so many of you can probably guess that this post will be about things I am thankful for.
You would be correct!
Yesterday as we gathered all together as a family, I didn't expect to talk about the Howdy Farm at all, but in a surprising turn of events it became the topic of several conversations. To start off, last week my parents visited the farm and bought some produce at our market. At our Thanksgiving meal we enjoyed a salad made with Howdy Farm lettuce! I had no idea it would be served, and actually didn't know it was there until I had already eaten my salad. It tasted great, and once the word was out, I had family member after family member come by and compliment me on the great food we produced on the farm! I thought it was so incredible to mix my work with my family, and realized that essentially that is what the farm strives to do. Farming is about bringing people together and providing food and other products for the ones we love. I've always known this since my whole family farms, but it was different to experience it on a more personal level. It made me really grateful that I was able to continue farming even while I was in college, and promote a different side of something so important to my family.
A couple of hours later, my Aunt Martha remembered a newspaper article she had brought from home. She passed around a clipping of the Houston Chronicle titled, "Even Beyond Pigskin, Aggieland Worth a Trip". The page included a list of places and urged visitors to expand the scope of their trips further than Kyle Field and find the hidden treasures of Texas A&M's campus. Lo and behold, one of the 8 places mentioned was the Howdy Farm! I could not believe it!! The article was a short one explaining our goal of sustainability and our role of teaching students how to grow and care for different varieties of plants. It even concluded with a picture of Corey posing with freshly planted vegetable seedlings.
This made me extremely thankful for the opportunity I have had to work on the farm this semester. When you spend each week harvesting vegetables, sometimes you forget the goal of your job. Or at least sometimes I have. The goal is not how many peppers I can harvest or how many heads of lettuce I can fit into one cooler. The goal is to learn how sustainable agriculture works and how I can use it in my life. How can I use this experience to better the lives of other people? God didn't give me this opportunity and expect me to waste all the knowledge I've gained: He expects me to make a difference in the world and teach others how to cultivate and take care of the land He provided for us. Before starting this internship, I didn't know much about gardening in a way that would make others interested in knowing how food was produced, however now, I realize the importance of growing in a way that allows others the chance to fall in love with the land.
So today I learned another important quality about myself: I love people! This week I showed up to my intern hours and there were a couple of new faces.. Members of the Howdy Farm Club have to spend a certain amount of hours volunteering in order to still be a part of the club, so a couple members were there during my usual hours! They had already harvested everything we would harvest for the day, but we all worked together to wash all the lettuce and separate them into different coolers based on their type. After separating everything, everyone else left so there was just one other girl and me. Which was a super fun surprise! I realized that I enjoy working with other people! It was so much fun to talk to this girl while we worked. It made the time speed by and it made me realize how much I love what I do. I couldn't stop telling her about all the things we had done earlier in the semester, and all the things I loved about my internship experience. Praise God that she was there! Before today I have been either doing my jobs alone or side by side with Corey. Today I was able to teach somebody else and spread my love of plants to a new person. This makes me think that maybe God has a bigger plan for my life. I knew I loved working outside, but after realizing how much I cherish working with other people, I might want to work more with education. There are so many jobs within the field of Horticulture that teach others about plants and their uses. I could teach children through a school program, I could start up a horticultural therapy business to help elderly or disabled people learn about how they can get back on their feet. I could create something similar to the Howdy Farm where I could help students learn about the beautiful earth God created! Who knows, right now I just want to embrace the great outdoors!
This week I decided to write my blog post before I head out to work. I thought it would be a different viewpoint since I have no idea what will happen! And as we all know, God graced us with a bountiful rain this weekend! Here in College Station, we recorded about 7.5 inches total! That is a ton of rain in one setting, especially from a farm perspective.
I am wondering how much the rain affected the farm. Will all of the beds be flooded? Will there be mud covering everything? Will the rain have helped the plants grow tremendously so that all of the crops are ready to be harvested? I have no idea!!
I grew up on a cotton farm, so the weather was something that was very important to my family. My dad would watch the news three times a day to catch the local forecast, and every night at 10pm the whole family would turn from whatever show we were watching to the weather. We even had a favorite weatherman that we hated to see retire! I know firsthand how destructive or helpful weather could be. A quick rain shower in the middle of May means a refreshing drink for cotton and a delay of irrigation, but a quick rain shower in the middle of September means soggy cotton and a delay of harvesting.
This is where I learned how to trust in God's will for the farm. Even though as humans we feel we know best when it comes to the weather, God ultimately has a better plan. This weekend was filled with the constant question, "why is it raining so much?" It is hard to sit back and potentially watch your farm wash away when you can't do anything. Will the Howdy Farm be completely submerged and destroyed? Will the plants still be alive, or will we be left with a soggy mess? Will there be anything left when I come? Will I still have an internship opportunity or will this be a setback?
But who knows what I'll discover when I go to work on Thursday.
Who knows, this week could have the best harvest yet!
Today is October 1st! We are almost finished with the summer heat, and on to the cooler temperatures of fall!! Praise God! It's been a while since I last blogged because I was struggling for the words to say. I love this internship so much because for the majority of it, I get to harvest all of the produce and reap all of the benefits the farm creates! Last week, however, felt somewhat repetitive. The weather was still hot and humid, and I harvested the same peppers, okra, and peas just like I had the previous week, and would probably harvest the next couple of weeks to come. It felt monotonous and it was very difficult to become excited, even though I had previously been so overjoyed after my time working on the farm. This morning I headed out to the farm and expected the same routine, but was met with a pleasant surprise.
After harvesting the peppers, we discovered that there were more vegetables ready for harvesting! This time green beans, tomatillos, habaneros, and several different squash varieties were on our list of mature produce! But as I harvested these new veggies, I was quickly reminded of how great God is!
So often we get caught up in the monotonous tasks of daily life. It can feel like we never accomplish anything, or that there is no point to the tasks we complete everyday because they will find their way back on the to-do list the next week. However God did not create us for a repetitive life, but for an extraordinary one! Agriculture is one way He provides variety in our lives. There are so many little ways one vegetable is different from another. Today I learned that no bell pepper is completely green at full maturity. Every bell pepper starts off as green, and as it reaches peak maturity will turn into red, yellow, or orange, depending on the variety. The green peppers we see in grocery stores are simply immature colored peppers! So while we see one type of plant, a bell pepper, God actually provided so many different colors just to please our eyes!
Tomatillos are just as unique. When the plant flowers, the flowers actually fold and form a spherical pouch around the fruit as a covering. As the fruit grows inside, it is protected, and almost has a goal of how big it should grow! Once it has matured, it will burst slightly through the outer covering and is now a sweet, tasty vegetable. We are so similar to tomatillos, and we don't even know it. All throughout our lives, God is all around us providing protection and care. We have no reason to worry, because our one goal is to grow into the person we were made to be! Once we reach our full potential, and are who we were created to be, we are beautiful and complete.
As if vegetables weren't enough proof of God's love for us, He also provided the seasons to cure our feelings of repetition. Summer is a beautiful time because we get to experience sunny days, and tons of cucumbers and watermelons. But when fall rolls around we get a break from the heat, and are treated with vegetables like pumpkins and squash, that we are able to turn into warm pies or soups. I think many Texans become exasperated with the dreary summer days and are excited for change, but believe me when I say God has great things in store for us! Get ready to be invigorated!
Good afternoon everyone!
I just got back home from my intern hours today, and boy was today fun! The weather was so wonderful, with low humidity and strong cloud cover keeping it cool while I worked. I started off harvesting peppers. Today we had jalapenos, serranos, and cayenne peppers, and each one gets one degree hotter than the former. Next I moved onto the cucumbers and squash. This summer the Howdy Farm planted a large plot of cucumbers, squash, and zucchini, and they are all maturing very nicely. Cucumbers are very easy to harvest: you simply pinch them off the vine. Zucchini, however, have a thicker vine and in order to avoid breaking them, you need clippers to cut them off.
The last thing I harvested today was sweet corn. I am pretty familiar with corn (my family farms cotton and livestock corn), but sweet corn has a cool quality in that it is normal to see two ears of corn per stalk. In the picture on the top left, you can see this happening!
After I harvested each item, I weighed them and recorded all the weights on a spreadsheet. I mentioned last week that that was my project for the semester. If you are interested in how much food we are producing, this link will take you to the spreadsheet that I am using to keep track of everything:
At the very end of my time today, I helped set up for the Howdy Farm Market that we have every Thursday from 12-5pm. After setting everything up, we waited for customers. Within the first fifteen minutes we had seven customers! Business was booming out on the farm as we sold several pounds of purple hull peas, cucumbers, and other vegetables. We even sold a Howdy Farm t-shirt, so be on the lookout for the cute design!
That's all I have for you today, but I'd like to end this with my favorite joke.
What did the nosy pepper do?
He got jalapeno business.
(In case you didn't know, the bottom left picture is a jalapeno plant!)
Have a good week and God bless!