This year we had 4 fab youth interns (high school students/KEYS Interns), one grad student, and 3 workshares. Below are bios on the interns. To read more about our workshares, check out the Workshare page.
Lahbwee Moo (Burma / Thailand)
Background image: beds he beautifully groomed
Bio: Having escaped Burma to a refugee camp in Thailand, I’ve only been here 10 months, so I have not been speaking English long. Back in Burma my family used to hunt and farm, so I am used to skilled work. Urban Farming in Canada is different from what I am used to, so I enjoy the change and remember a lot from what I learned back home.
This Summer I’ve been able to see a whole season of growing in Kingston. I wish we could have grown more of the vegetables I am used to eating. I love apples and cucumbers, but the cucumbers here are small and the hot peppers are mild for me. Next year I want to teach Tim how to grow more Thai food, and eat it at the potluck and with my family.
I prefer outdoor work to indoor work, and think it is important to be able to work at the same time as talking so we get the jobs done each day. I like saving seed, and know when to pick the best part of the crop to save. [Excerpts from interview with LahBwee. Ed.]
Kyle Sztuke (Canada)
Zuccha Gourd Maintenance Manager – working the soil blocker
I have always liked working with my hands, and the last few years I have been interested in growing my own food and herbs.
When I heard about the KEYS Summer Jobs For Youth program I thought it would be a good way to get a summer job. This Summer I worked at the Oak Street Community Garden, and for my first real job I really lucked out. With Tim as my boss I’ve learned a lot about growing food organically and think that community gardening is something that is good for all communities. I’ve also been able to try ethnic foods as I work with a diverse group of other students from different areas around the world.” [We eat a potluck every Tuesday night, and this Summer we had a Thai night and a Phillippines meal too. Ed.]
- daily watering of zukes and cukes
- plot maintenance
- dill, sage, bean and basil harvesting
- digging and new bed preparation
- planting out toms, squash
- seed-saving (arugula)
- weeding chives
- squash care–mulch collection, mulching, applying diatomacious earth
- picking faster
- caring for gardens [takes attention]
- interacting with neighbours
- land clearing [is hard work]
Cassie Rodriguez (Canada)
In Isaac’s basil patch
Bio: “I am the ‘master weeder’ around here. Tim always has me weed different spots of the garden. It’s crazy how fast [weeds] grow. [Tim] has taught me a lot of stuff about the garden, including how to plant, seed, harvest and also how to make a pesto using basil.
Insight #1: I do harvesting of the swiss chard each week. It’s a fun job to do. What I do is twist the bottom of the stalk and pull, then I make small and large bunches for the Good Food Box program [and other vegetable baskets]. I usually make 15 small bunches of 3-4 stalks each, 15 large bunches of 6 stalks and then one huge bunch of 12 stalks.
Insight #2: How to harvest basil: pick the biggest leaves (if flowers and baby leaves come off too that’s okay–pesto can be made). It’s faster and more efficient to pick with too hands, but that’s after you get used to it.
- Be sure to mix up the colours of [swiss chard] stalks too, they make beautiful bunches when you do.
- Use the paths! Do not walk on the plants.
- Weed where needed: take initiative once you know where.
- Tools always go back to the shed when you are done using them.
- Kill orange bugs on plants! (just pinch them).
- Always put [row] covers back on, unless told otherwise by Tim.
- Compost–read signs first to know which bin to put stuff in.
- Use small green hoe for narrow paths.
- Use big/wide red hoe[s] for crazy weeds (if in path)
- Put scraps + weeds in compost.
- Pile rocks under taps.
Mark Asagblud (Phillippines)
Tying lines on the second cucumber crop
Bio: I am not afraid of hard work. I have been responsible for the majority of the greens washing for the summer. Tim does not do it since he sees I can wash out the containers and bags and keep up easily with his harvesting. My family is from the Phillippines, so I am used to picking beans and know what makes for a quality bean.
In my spare time I play guitar, so I like having the radio on while I work too, so I can hear the tunes. It makes me laugh when LahBwee tries to sing the line “I wanna be a Billionaire/ so frickin’ hard.”
I want to keep working as long as I can into the Autumn, and hope to work in the garden with Tim again next year. I am sure we can grow even more food on our small urban patch. [We have a bunch of gardens in our decentralized urban farm, more planned for 2011. Ed]
Laura Lepper (Canada)
My growing interest in gardening and urban agriculture’s vital role in food justice drew me to Oak St Garden and Main Street Market for Summer 2010. Being an intern for Main Street Market this summer was an ideal opportunity to gain experience in growing food and community in an urban setting.
Throughout the last four months, frequent tasks involved seed blocking and seeding, transplanting into larger pots and the garden, and of course, watering and weeding. Out at the garden, beds would often have to be hoed and raked to make new plant-homes. Planting will always be one of my favourite things to do – especially as I learn new ways to plant old favourites. Some unique work included drilling holes in logs and plugging them with shiitake mushroom spores. I also began to learn how to prepare for, transport and sell the vegetables at market.
Working in an urban market training garden helped me develop specific skills, but also exposed me to new ideas and food-growing possibilities. Some specific skills included learning how to make soil for blocking and seeding, prune tomatoes, build compost, prepare and rotate garden beds and prioritise the garden tasks. However, I also learned that urban agriculture is about creating interdependences and networks to access space, resources and support. The growing network that Main Street Market builds and connects to includes using urban backyards to grow shiitakes and harvesting otherwise unpicked fruit trees in various local places. Connections to local rural farms further builds the important interdependences associated with market gardening in the city and supporting local food. I learned that urban agriculture is definitely about imagination; I was able to experience how a yard of nothing but gravel can quickly become a diverse, producing, beautiful growing space.
The summer experience was not without its challenges. Balancing my schedule – between the tasks I want to do, what needs to be done, and other obligations I had – made planning and flexibility necessary. Another challenge I learned to overcome was being able to independently recognize or find what work needs to be done. One of the biggest obstacles I’ll always remember will be pulling a heavy bike trailer, piled with coolers of food for the market, up a steep hill!
TIPS FOR FUTURE INTERNS
1. Every task is valuable, whether it be relaxing and fun, or labour-intensive and tedious. For example, when weeding, I like to think about all the plants I’m saving!
2. Be ready to be flexible. While it is important to plan your schedule, nature doesn’t always follow the plan!
3. Gardening does not just take place in a garden; it takes place in notebooks and on porches, in backyards and rained-out markets, in conversation and imagination.
SPECIFIC TASKS DONE OFTEN
- soil block making and seeding (see image above)
- potting up (transplanting into larger pots)
- preparing and caring for shiitake mushrooms – drilling holes, putting in spore plugs, watering
- garden bed-prepartion – hoeing, raking, marking
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
- how to better prioritise tasks
- garden planning and bed rotation
- urban agriculture interdependences and networking – looking for space, resources, reusing materials
- how to prepare a yard for shiitakes and use an angle grinder to prepare logs (see video on Media page)
- cherry picking
- greenhouse – melons can grow there in several large pots
- what looks like a yard of nothing but gravel can quickly become a diverse, producing, beautiful growing area
- specific plants – when they’re planted, how they’re cared for
- preparing for the market – harvesting, packing, hauling, set-up
- balancing schedule to do what work I want, what needs to be done, other obligations
- taking initiative, being able to independently recognize or find what needs to be done
- riding with a heavy bike trailer up hills!
Lenka (Czech Republic)
Lenka found her way to our house from the bus station with help from a friend (and CSA member) of Main Street Market. Lenka stayed with us for six weeks, cheerfully tending plants with her detailed work skills. Her background in horticulture meant she had lots of experience with and loves plants. Lenka also had great fun with Mialana, doing dishes, preparing Czech food for us, and defending her room from squirrels.