They were Ben, Heidi, Jason, Jeff, and Ryan – Claire’s eighth grade students from her first year of teaching at Brookville High. These fine young people “wanted to work at Mrs. Orner’s herb farm.” As a mismatch of shy, mischievous, studious, and outgoing personalities, this five-some arrived wearing baggy pants, shorts, overalls, t-shirts and a few with skateboards in hand.
That summer we paid them minimum wage and threw in an extra quarter for every bucket of weeds they filled. It was definitely hard work, planting and weeding five hundred strawberry plants while shoveling soil to create a spiral of Echinacea in raised beds. After ten days off for vacation, two of the young men, Jason and Ryan, returned saying “Wow, those German Johnson tomatoes really grew.”
We were so excited that summer. Not only had the willing workers noticed a change in the garden, but they remembered the name of the heirloom crop they had planted. In addition, we discovered how important kids (and adults) need and want to take ownership in a meaningful project.
Quiet Creek Herb Farm & School of Country Living was truly birthed that summer by five teenagers struggling to understand their adolescence while digging, weeding, planting, and watching the growth of baby plants on an organic herb farm.
Imagine our excitement this spring when one of the original five contacted us to complete his college internship here. Ryan has been a blessing to us all summer with his easy going attitude and encouragement to the other members of the Quiet Creek volunteer crew. Then to add to our pleasure, Jason stopped by this week while home from Louisiana. A few years back, Heidi invited us to her special wedding day.
To share memories and to plan new adventures with these three has brought tears to Claire’s eyes. They are fine people now grounded in sustainable living and they were the first to help us put our dream into action –to nurture ecological thinking.
Thank you Ryan, Jason and Heidi; let’s get together more often and invite Jeff and Ben next time.