Lessons from Spreadwing’s farm internship

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chicken coop and orchard douring farm internship
chicken coop and orchard during Spreadwing’s farm internship

Well, I am finally back home after a month at Spreadwing’s farm internship. This is an Organic farm ran by Michael G. Smith, natural builder extraordinaire, and his wife Cathy, homesteader of the year in my book.  Together this couple is a treasure trove of natural building, farming, animal husbandry, food preservation and the list goes on and on.

A few things stood out to me that I wanted to share with you. Being that I am, though not standard, a city boy, I feel there might be others that will find this information useful. So bare with me if this sounds like old news to you…

While talking with people there it quickly became obvious that many of the nascent community building ideas from the city have been in full bloom for a long time in smaller, possibly more rural, communities. As an example there is the Food Swap Network. This is the description of what a food swap is from their page: “A food swap is a recurring event where members of a community share homemade, homegrown, or foraged foods with each other. Swaps allow direct trades to take place between attendees, e.g., a loaf of bread for a jar of pickles or a half-dozen backyard eggs. Swap events also include a potluck as an immediate food-sharing (and sometimes item-sampling) component. These events are a delicious way to diversify the homemade foods in your own pantry while getting to know members of your local food community.” Now as I mentioned this very exciting development, people around me looked as if I was attempting to tell them about this new invention called fire. This is the way of life here. Though maybe not throughout rural areas, they share the harvest, tools, and just about any resource available to them on a daily basis.

When you live where you work, resource management seems to be the norm. There was very little “waste” created. Most things either ended up being composted or eaten by the chickens. If not that then the goats got them or it was cleaned up to be reused or put aside for a later project. This is something I’ve been doing here in the city, to a lesser capacity, for a while now. It sure is harder when the systems are not put into place to facilitate this.


food preserves
food preserves

Food was a big issue as well. Nearly all the food was either grown on site or was brought over by friends. For example, mid way through the  farm internship, one of the near by farms had some wild pigs ” break in” to their crops. Needless to say, they killed them as this would have meant a loss of the whole lot if left alone. Thanks to this, we were given a pig that would feed us for quite a while. As an aside, I’ve been told they reproduce faster than rabbits. When looking in to the refrigerator the only thing I would find with a label was the butter.

Now this is not to say that people in rural areas don’t eat McDonalds or that people in the city don’t take sustainability seriously. I am only making observations into my experience where I was. This makes me think of the benefits of making a more earnest and intimate connection between the two. What are your experiences, if any, between the two lifestyles? I’d love to hear from more experienced people on the subject…


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