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Vacation: All I Ever Wanted

By Grace Grattan, Phase II Fellow

Farming is hard work. Even in the cold early spring when the long, hot days of summer are still far off on the horizon there is always work to be done. After working on the mountain farm during Phase I, I was no stranger to the labor that can go into a farm, so I had an idea of what was in store for me with my Phase II placement at the AMI Farm at Augusta Health. As expected, I have gone home physically exhausted from being on the farm most evenings.

Ultimately, all the hard work pays off. Our seeds germinate, our seedlings are transplanted, our plants thrive, and I start to get into a rhythm. However, three weeks ago my rhythm was interrupted by a long-awaited family vacation to Costa Rica. It was a privilege to be able to relax for a week and take time away from the busy farm, recharging with my family. In the fitting words of Post Malone, I had “worked so hard, forgot how to vacation,” and taking time away allowed me to take a step back, breathe, appreciate everything we have been working so hard on these past few months in preparation for the busy summer season ahead!

Busy spreading compost on our beds to prepare for planting

The most memorable part of the trip was being able to experience whole new ecosystems with flora and fauna drastically different than the Virginia species I was familiar with. Squirrels and crows were replaced by kuwaitis and neon colored birds. Fields of sugarcane and pineapples as well as orchards of mango, coffee, and cacao trees stood in stark contrast to the fields of corn, soy, and cattle that dominate the landscape in central Virginia.

We were lucky enough to spot a rare and gorgeous quetzal.

A baby pineapple. I learned that a single pineapple can take up to 2 years to grow naturally!

It was exciting and slightly familiar to visit the small farm that provided produce to the hotel we stayed at in the mountains. In Costa Rica, they were growing some of the same crops that we are growing at the AMI Farm at Augusta Health. However, with their year-round mild temperatures, crops like kale, lettuce, and chard are always in season! Another difference was, due to constant year-round temperatures (the two seasons are wet and dry), trees in tropical climates don’t have growth rings that correlate to a year of age, like we do in temperate areas, like Virginia. These are just a few examples of how exciting it was to witness and learn a bit about how diverse plant life and agriculture can be.

A large, "ageless" tree in the cloud forest

The small, terraced farm that provides food for the next-door hotel.

Now, back in Staunton (and sipping Costa Rican coffee!), I am ready and re-energized for the busyness the spring and summer has in store here on the farm!

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