Ainsley’s Service Reflection: Earth Matter Governors Island

Yesterday, I met Claire and a few other Friends Seminary students at the Governors Island ferry on South Street. It was a short ride and we arrived around midday. We met two Earth Matter volunteers at some picnic benches in the center of the organization’s work ground who explained the schedule for the day. They seemed so excited to see us even though we were just a bunch of overtired teenagers getting up earlier than we wanted to¬†on a Saturday morning. Their appreciation was like the cup of coffee I didn’t have time to drink.

My first assignment was to turn over two rows of land to plant collard with two other kids. I was handed a shovel, a rake and some seeds and was frustrated that they thought the three of us would only be able to get through two rows. I could totally do like 10 rows alone, I thought to myself. In order to plant new seeds, you have to dig up all of the old dirt, turn it over and pull out invasive roots (mud weed in this case) and litter. Then you have to rake the dirt up into pyramidal rows to leave a path for walking, pat them down and water them. A row is about three feet wide. Halfway through the first row, I was sweaty, out of breath and exhausted. I was hit with a serious appreciation for the strength, hard work and care that farmers must put into growing the food that I completely take for granted.

I finished my rows and moved on to planting sacks of potatoes. After that, Anna Lee and I were tasked with collecting eggs from several dozen chickens which also proved to be much harder than expected. As it turns out, chickens do not like it when you stick your hand under them. We got squawked at and pecked viciously with every chicken we overturned. Each chicken lays one egg a day, and we knew how many chickens there were, so it was kind of like an easter egg hunt. The colors of the eggs varied beautifully.

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