Volunteer Log: My First Days on the 21 Acres Farm

Volunteer Log: My First Days on the 21 Acres Farm

  • posted on: November 24, 2021
  • posted by: 21 Acres
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By Dannon Tabing.

Headshot photo of Dannon Tabing. He's wearing a white Tshirt and black overalls with a broad-brimmed farm hat and a broad smile.
Volunteer Dannon Tabing.

Day 1 – The start of my farming story

August 21, 2021
Saturday, 10:00 a.m.

Before I started my first day at 21 Acres, I was just another guy looking for an opportunity to learn more about farming and what better than to go find a volunteer opportunity? My interest in farming started with some research on organic food. Changing your diet to organic meals can make such a large impact on your life and I wanted to know what that process looked like.

I yearned for the experience but I couldn’t find many places that allowed volunteering since the emergence of COVID-19. It was difficult, but since my move to North Seattle, I discovered 21 Acres which allowed volunteers on the farm and had safety measures in place.

It was a cloudy first day. We introduced ourselves and learned more about whose land we were on (Duwamish, Sammamish, and Stillaguamish), where we can learn more about the farm’s practices, and other resources including the 21 Acres YouTube channel and blog.

Then, we walked out to the farm and began pulling weeds in between the pathways of the tomato fields. I thought it was going to be a tricky and meticulous task; however, it was pretty straightforward. Because I was with other volunteers and with the help of the 21Acres employees, it was a positive and instructive experience on how we should pull the weeds around crops and the impact we make from this task. Overall, it was hard work but we did get to pick blackberries to take home. To my surprise, I never knew how invasive blackberry bushes are.

I had a really amazing time learning and volunteering on my first day. I had this really strong feeling I would come back.

Day 2 – Sunny days and mulch

August 28, 2021
Saturday, 10:00 a.m.

Volunteer Danno Tabing and staff member Angelica Lucchetto stop for a masked selfie during a sunny day in August. My second day at 21 Acres was a pretty sunny day in late August. I came by to sign in once again at the volunteer stand and meet new volunteers who shared the same interest in farming. I wasn’t sure if we would be doing the same thing as the previous weekend but it was really exciting to be out!

Our task for the day was transferring mulch onto a truck and then spreading it on a pathway through the wetland for visitors to enjoy. Essentially, we laid out large pieces of cardboard onto a path. The purpose of the cardboard was not only to reduce a significant amount of weed growth but also to create the foundation for a path that would eventually compost into soil! Taking our wheelbarrows, shovels, and gloves, we shoveled away to fill the back of the truck with copious amounts of mulch and spread it over the path.

Unfortunately, we did not get to finish the path. We would be back another day though!

The 21 Acres staff are very friendly and wonderful people. They are happy to answer people’s questions about farming, different practices of agriculture, and to explain the history or science of produce! Because of this, I would happily come back to volunteer again.

Day 3 – Planting lettuce starts

September 4, 2021
Saturday, 10:00 a.m.

Rows of freshly-planted lettuce starts in early fall at the 21 Acres farm. I can’t call myself a regular for only coming on the third day at 21 Acres yet. However, a cool perk for coming back is you can earn discounts in the Farm Market with the volunteer rewards punch cards.

Ready with my overalls, my own pair of gloves, and a sun hat, I began transplanting small seedlings of lettuce. For such a small plant, it was interesting to learn from the 21 Acres farmers that these little seedlings can handle tugging, tossing, and getting stepping on. It was great learning these small facts at the farm and having a hand in helping life grow!

We transplanted about 50 lettuce seedlings in rows of three and went ahead to weeding around the fields. Although a large amount of volunteering consists around the property, it is a largely important task because weeds compete with other crops for nutrients in soil and even steal sunlight & water from them! It serves as an important function in product production
Now that I’ve been consistently coming every Saturday morning, I’ve made it a tradition to consistently buy a kombucha bottle and any new containers of lunch mixes from their crops at their wonderful Farmers Market.

 

 

Day 4 –

Finishing the pathway

September 11, 2021
Saturday, 10:00 a.m.

Mulched pathway done by dedicated volunteers at the 21 Acres farm. It’s been about a month since I started coming to volunteer with 21 Acres. I’ve had such a great experience that I even brought friends this time!

Luckily, we were able to find spots for my friends to join since there are only 20 spots available per volunteer day for coronavirus safety. But the more the merrier when it comes to volunteering, especially for the strenuous tasks!

Our task for the day was finally coming around to finishing the mulched pathway we were covering a few weeks ago. It was a fun day as I invited some friends to join along with me and as well as seeing some returning volunteers! Some of the volunteers I’ve met come to earn volunteer hours, enjoy the exercise outside, or just to learn more about farming in general! In spite of all the fun we were having, we were able to finish the mulched pathway for visitors to walk on through the wetland.

Danno Tabing and friends pose in front of flower rows at the 21 Acres farm.

 

 

Day 5 – Harvesting Begins

October 2, 2021
Saturday, 10:00 a.m.

Squash harvest at the 21 Acres farm is bountiful and colorful early October 2021.

Autumn is here and so are new seasonal tasks at the 21 Acres farm.

If you haven’t been on the farm already, it’s a very beautiful walk in between the fields especially with the tree leaves changing to all of the autumn colors. The farm is open year-round Wednesdays through Fridays 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. to take a walk and see what’s growing, even if you’re not volunteering.

There were several tasks to do, including pulling the wilting tomato plants, and harvesting amaranth and squash! It wasn’t as strenuous work as other volunteer days, and I was excited to do more crop picking. We had a great crowd of volunteers who managed to pick a lot of squash, pumpkins, radishes, and even some corn in the fields. I learned that this food then goes to the Farm Market and food security partners.

My time at 21 Acres are moments I will never forget as it played a pivotal part in my life. Some of the most valuable things I’ve learned while volunteering with them have been: one small repetitive task can create large impacts in our environment and if you want to learn about farming then start volunteering at one–(asking a lot of questions is highly encouraged!)! You will meet great folks who volunteer, great employees who can educate and tell you more about organic farming, and enjoy a simple day of farming!

About Danno

Hi! My name is Dannon but I generally go by Danno. Currently I work as an Urban Farmer in Seattle. I spend my time either playing video games, going on walks around parks, reading books on creating my own farm, and volunteering my time at organic farms. I’m passionate about organic farming because I love the idea of being self-sustainable by growing my own food source, being physically active outside, and helping things grow! Thank you for following my journey and maybe I will see you there at 21 Acres!

P.S. We’re hosting our last volunteer work party on the farm this year this Saturday, November 27th. We hope to see you there! There are also volunteer opportunities all year long. – Becca Jordan, Operations Manager.