Working with Greenagers for almost 5 years has been educational, challenging, accomplishing, and adventurous. I have learned so much, from providing bed gardens for local families, creating bog bridges over wetlands, building about 80 stone steps on the Appalachian Trail, to building new safe trails and many other projects. Being a part of Greenagers has opened more opportunities for my interests and goals for working out doors. While meeting new people, making friends, learning, communicating, serving my community, and educating, I’ve enjoyed it all!
Our trail crew members have been hard at work throughout the summer’s heat and occasional rain. There is one more week in the regular season, but we’ll be running smaller crews for another post-season month or so. If you see Greenagers out there, please do stop and say hi. They would love to talk with you.
Update 8.26.20 – This position has been filled.
We are looking for a leader for new programming focused on introducing students to aspects of the building and landscape trades through hands-on projects, sites visits, and workshops with local contractors, and community based service. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 5 years experience in construction, landscaping, trail work, or related fields with leadership experience. We have a strong preference for experience in light construction or woodworking. A successful applicant will have a keen interest in working with youth and positive youth development, developing program objectives with administration, and an ability to work with the rest of the Greenagers staff as a team. Past experience working with youth is strongly preferred. Additional duties include general maintenance of buildings and grounds at April Hill. Good communication skills and facility with word processing and spreadsheet software are requited. Applicant must submit to a CORI background check and have a clean driving record. This is a full-time position.
Greenagers’ New Farm Manager is Bringing a Full-Scale Educational Farm to Life at April Hill
On the Greenagers wish list, after its 2019 purchase of the April Hill property as a home for youth education and conservation: A truly sustainable and educational working farm.
The expansive, fertile property was waiting for a plan and action to diversify its agricultural potential. But the farm project would require a skilled, experienced farmer, who is also an educator, who would also be an advocate for Greenagers and connect with the region’s teens and young adults.
Ultimately, I feel the land is guiding what has and will happen here.
As it turned out, the right person for the job was just over the hill, in Mt. Washington: Justin Torrico-Fawks brought a world of expertise to the job.
Greenagers supports and stands side by side with all who work and fight for racial justice.
- We support the right of every person to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience.
- We support justice and reparations for all people of color.
- We believe in social equality and know that this cannot come without economic equality.
We are not yet leaders in this fight. We commit to following the expertise and learning from those who deserve to be followed and heard: Multicultural BRIDGE (https://www.multiculturalbridge.org); NAACP Berkshires (https://www.naacpberkshires.org); BLACK LIVES MATTER (https://blacklivesmatter.com).
Here’s a peek at the work going on:
A line of nut and fruit trees has been planted along either side of one of our hedgerows, soon to be the ‘Duck Food Forest’. Chestnut, Hazelnut, Hickories and Northern Pecans on the North, Mulberry trees on the south and elderberry, sea berries, black and red currants, comfrey and much more planted throughout, a delicious future food forest.
The .6-acre demo garden is planted and ready to grow. Locust posts were stripped and drilled into the ground for the fence. Our crew worked to clear tree limbs from above the beds, while compost covers the cardboard for planting of perennials: asparagus, horse radish, strawberries, and raspberries to start.
Working independently on a single mission, a day might look like this: Sarah rakes out the compost in the planting bed, Jessie saws off large limbs of a prolific crabapple tree to bring in more sunlight, while Eli plants the asparagus crowns. We have found a way to do this important work while keeping a safe distance during this difficult time. We hope you can also find creative ways of working and helping each other as we all keep a safe distance. As more of us are saying; “we are going to get through this…together!”
Our farm manager Justin Torrico stops to pick up some discarded roots, dug out of the compost pile…yellow dock (rumex crispus). “Full of magnesium and calcium’ he explains. “The roots of the dock plant penetrate deep into the subsoil, finding these minerals far below ground and making them available to nutrient deficient soils above. Mountain soils around the world are regularly low in these minerals. I dry it, and use it as a tea, which rejuvenates the muscles and joints and nourishes my bones. Keeps me deeply rooted so to speak.”
Farmer Justin sniffs the roots to identify the discarded weed as yellow dock. He then gathers up the beneficial plant for future consumption.
Clearing out the ‘dead wood’ is something that we often take for granted. Here’s a ‘behind the woodshed’ scene of tree removal to make way for the new edible food forest, being planted now.
There is always a silver lining of hope in the midst of any crisis. Berkshire Food Co-Op is continuing to serve our community through these hard times, and is giving back by choosing Greenagers for their Round Up for Change campaign in April: “every customer, every day is asked if they’d like to round up their total to the nearest dollar so their spare change can MAKE BIG CHANGE in our community. Each year, there are twelve recipient organizations that have been democratically selected by our Owners and each month one of those organizations will receive the money raised through our ROUND UP FOR CHANGE program.”
Greenagers is very grateful to have been selected as this month’s Round Up for Change recipient. Donations through this program will go directly to our Front Lawn Food program, supplying healthy food to local families in need. The need now is greater than ever and your support makes it possible for us to support our community in this way.
Thank you for providing Berkshire residents with local, healthy food and supportive programming!
To the Greenagers community:
We have been working along as best we can during this ever-changing and difficult time. Our thoughts are with our non-profit colleagues in emergency services and front-line social services. The needs are great and it is heartening to see the Herculean efforts employed by the community at-large.
Our staff continues to work from home and we still encourage youth that hope to work with us to send in their applications. Our date for confirming hiring will be fluid as we follow guidelines from state and federal authorities. At this time, it will not be sooner than April 27.
We continue to get some work accomplished at April Hill Farm. Agriculture is an essential sector and our new fruit and nut trees, shrubs and seeds need to be planted and stewarded. The products of these labors will be more food for our community, direct to those who need it most. If you would like to help provide more food security for our community, visit the Front Lawn Food page of our website. A donated bed could go a long way toward restoring a family’s resilience. When we do begin to peek around the corner of this crisis, the need for gardens, local food, and trails will be stronger than ever. We are eager to meet this need and community efforts to create these opportunities will be one of the many forms of COVID catharsis. Working outdoors will be one of the first, and safest, modes of reconnecting.
Wishing you safety and wellness and looking forward to seeing you in the garden or on the trail.
And they had a great, great day. Thank you, Mario, for sharing your time and expertise so generously!
Blogger Barb Abelhauser did a lovely piece on Greenagers on her blog The View From a Drawbridge.
“There are so many benefits to Greenagers that there is not enough space on this blog to count them all.”
Inspire: give new breath; animate
It’s the end of the year, time for a deep breath, time for reflection. What if, for this new year, you could inspire a teen?
We often have such lofty goals toward environmental awareness and activism, civic duty and wholesome community. But not one of these is possible without the first breath of inspiration. It might be the wonder of first spotting a kestrel or hearing the vernal wood frog. Perhaps the first time a crew member stacks stone upon stone for an Appalachian Trail staircase sparks new confidence and self-esteem. Or it could be meeting a new friend during the course of shared work. These are the moments that inspire, that set a course for future success.
Chesterwood has been a longtime partner of Greenagers. For the past three years, Greenagers kids rebuilt and stabilized Daniel Chester French’s Ledges Trail. They hewed from the rocks a path for visitors to access one of French’s favorite spots for reflection, looking at the northern tip of Monument Mountain to the south, the Taconic Range to the west. Each crew then gets to tour French’s studio and see that they are continuing the work of the man who sculpted Abraham Lincoln. What do the kids report first upon coming back? They say, “I didn’t even know Chesterwood was there.”
Your support of Greenagers makes these moments happen. Your gifts get them “there”, to that first point of contact, learning, and adventure.
If we, with your gift, can keep inspiring our kids, they’ll be alright. With any luck, they will give us a little new breath as we head into winter, storing up our energies for spring and beyond.