Till your way: Cohort trip to Bartram’s Garden

According to the Ty, co-director of Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden, it was solstice today and that farms get busy around this time as they prepare for the fall season. Upon hearing that, I thought to myself 1) ‘finally the fall is coming – can’t wait to wear my sweaters around’ and 2) ‘what a great day it was to visit this lush and beautiful place for community services!’

Eight people squatting below and around the banner that reads "Go back and get it"
IEDPers and their friend (thank you, Jenn, for joining us!)

With Dr. GK’s suggestion, GAs this year have set an ambitious goal to have at least one community service event every month. (Shout out to Meilin who has been doing most of the organizing!) Thus came the visit to Bartram’s Garden, the very first community service event for this year. The cohort had a rough week as we had to submit our first assignment for Proseminar, compounded with many other first assignments most of us to submit for our electives. For that reason, it was so great to see a decent turnout at 9 am on Saturday.

Bartram’s Garden is a 15-minute drive away from the campus, located on the bank of Schuylkill River. Part of the garden is Sankofa Community Farm managed by local high school students with the mission of providing affordable produce to the local community, especially focusing on African diaspora group in Southwestern Philadelphia. Ty explained that “Sankofa” is an expression in Twi language of western Africa meaning “going back and get it,” which illustrates the farm’s commitment to look back at the community that it belongs to as it moves forward. Sankofa Farm seemed to share the same values with many of the IEDPers have in regard to development and education around the world. Once again, what an apt place at an apt time of the year to be for a community service!

Are we doing this right?

Our cohort were assigned to tilling the soil out in the field. Armed with working gloves (thanks to Sharon for bringing them!) and hoes, we entered the field and arrived at the rows we were supposed to plow. One of the high school students running the farm showed us how to till, which didn’t look so complicated or difficult. Until we tried ourselves… Finding that sweet spot between digging too deep and not digging enough was more difficult than I thought. You wouldn’t want to completely dig everything up but at the same time, you have to make sure that other plants growing on those rows of soil should be cleared for new seeds.

Also, it was a full body work out! After ten minutes of tilling with at least five breaks in between, I knew that I could totally skip gym today. Some noted that they were afraid to wake up the next morning!

After finishing the first row, we moved to a different part of the field and began tilling again. This was the moment I learned that IEDPers are such fast learners! Most of us began to find that sweet spot and tilled with more ease – only after good thirty minutes of tilling! We divided up the rows and each person conquered their parts. We finished the rows we were assigned with early, even moved on to an extra row and finished that as well. #IEDProud for sure.

Eight people in the center of the photo tilling the soil at a field surrounded by trees. Blue clear sky above.
Tilling that extra row! PC: Meilin Chong

It was a beautiful weather with just the right amount of sunshine and breeze, perfect for early morning sweat! Working in a farm brought back dear memories for some of our cohort mates and at the same time introduced us to new friends as well. Discovering parts of Philadelphia previously unknown to our cohort was an eye-opening experience that made me become more attached to the greater community that IEDP belongs to. Morning well spent on the brink of fall!

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