As a freshman, I remember frequently hearing about the alleged “Furman farm”. Naturally, when picturing this farm, I would visualize vast fields being plowed by tractors and roamed by cows. Then I would occasionally walk past the Shi Center and observe the large flourishing garden out back—surely, I thought, this couldn’t be the entire Furman farm, there must be more somewhere. I didn’t believe that an area of plants that small could produce very much food. But I thought wrong!
After working on the farm for a week, I’ve come to realize the abundance that can be grown in such a small area. It is truly mind-blowing. Monday, I harvested three or four boxes of squash and zucchini that were bigger than my forearm. A mere two days later, the squash vine was ready to harvest again. Bruce Adams, the farm manager, is a mastermind of growing things, described by a worker in the dining hall as having “five green thumbs on each finger”. This comment has yet to be disproven. Under Bruce’s care, the plants on the farm truly flourish, generating new produce each day like nobody’s business.
Today, I spent my morning spraying corn with a special worm-repelling concoction from Bruce. I harvested cauliflower, some beautiful cabbage, some eggplant. I weeded the herb garden. While these tasks are simple, they are extremely rewarding. Pouring your own labor into a task like this, sweating and sore, slowly progressing through a tedious or monotonous series of jobs to eventually end up with a 24-pound box of freshly washed straight-neck yellow squash that emanate their own heavenly glow is the most fulfilling thing in the world.
Even only a week in, I feel more connected to the natural world than I ever have, able to observe the teeniest bite on a leaf or a scuffle of dirt on the ground and infer the presence of pests, able to know that rain acts as a fertilizer by absorbing nitrogen from the air and transferring it to the plants it waters. It is a satisfying and peaceful feeling to be able to understand why and how food grows, and to truly appreciate the intricate processes that encompass that.
This summer, for the next two months, I’m going to be the assistant farm manager, working aside Bruce Adams to help oversee all the inner-workings of the farm. From getting my hands dirty digging and harvesting and planting to overseeing other farm workers, I am looking forward to a summer of immense learning and growth amidst the flourishing Furman farm.
By Lily Pittman