As a college student overwhelmed by the workload of my university and extremely social atmosphere I longed for a peaceful escape to throw myself into. A quick google search lead me to Ripe City, a local farm run by university alumni in Tallahassee, FL with the help of a small team of community members. I donated my time on this farm for the duration of my college career, about 3 years, and I got so much more out of the experience then I could have imagined.
Volunteering is incredible because it allows others the chance to make a positive impact in their community with absolutely no experience. The local farm was a safe space where anyone with a drive for helping out were taken under and supported by other volunteers. The farm was a learning opportunity for everyone. Not only were we growing fresh produce but we were growing stronger as a community in the long run. Slow and steady, gaining momentum, like sowed seed in Spring.
The key takeaways, I would love to share, why volunteering on a farm is an amazing experience is as follows:
Get your hands in the dirt
There are infinite scientific studies linking time outdoors to positive overall health. The benefits of regular contact with soil has shown to have a direct link to mood improvement and immune system function. Sinking our hands in the earth triggers the release of serotonin in our brain, aka the happy chemical, a natural anti-depressant!
Meet members of the community
Volunteering your time on a community project is an excellent way to meet new people. Coming across individuals on all walks of life and meeting people who are different from you. These simple interactions have positive rippling effects, by expanding your mindset exponentially and enhancing your communication skills. I met so many people while volunteering on the farm. These short and sweet interactions really moved me and taught me that warm people will always flow in and out of your life if you are open to it.
Connect with yourself
Volunteering can also be an act of self-love. Gifting yourself the time of working on the land will give back to you tenfold. Almost every farming task can be taken with a meditative approach. I remember one time I was weeding a long garden bed. Focusing completely on the task at hand, weaving in and out of the bed, I finished two hours later. Feeling an abundance of mental clarity and quite peaceful.
Celebrate the slowness of life
If there is one life skill working on a farm will teach you it’s patience. There is a famous quote that I love by Lao Tzu, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”. Working on the land heightens your awareness and appreciation for the cycle of life. You see first-hand what it’s like sowing seeds, the gradual growth process, all the way to harvesting. People tend to have an enhanced appreciation for food when they go through this lengthy process. I grew a new-found appreciation for every ingredient that would make my plate.
Needless to say, this article is for anyone looking to stray away from their everyday routine or simply get involved in the community you live in. Community gardens, farms are an organic way to meet like-minded individuals who are also just trying to share, learn, and grow.
Taylor Goggin is tropical gardener in Florida who gained her skills in cooperative agriculture while work-trading with a World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program on the Hawaiian Islands. She now grows papaya, banana, avocado, fig, tomatoes, and medicinal herbs to make into inventive plant-based recipes. Connect with Taylor on Instagram, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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