A Day in the Life

Jackson Pittman, left, and Adam McBath finish work on a trailer for Rapunzels' new chicken coop.
A lot of people have expressed interest in what a "typical day" consists of at Better Farm. Simplest answer? It depends. Every day starts and ends with chores (feeding the animals, flipping on the grow light in the aquaponics, checking for eggs, herbs, veggies, and fruits ready for harvest, opening and closing the chicken coops), and on most days (weather permitting), the interns are outside all day working in the gardens or on a construction project. Other days (and in inclement weather), we get the morning chores done and have time to take a field trip, do some research, clean up inside, make house renovations, or have some down time.

While our interns have a set schedule and daily chores, our artists design their own days. They help out throughout the week on different activities, chores, and projects, but their focus is on their art. So an artist might keep to himself or herself for days at a time, reappearing for a flurry of activity. Our recent visiting betterArts resident Kevin Carr described one of his busy days like this:
Woke up at 8:30, fed chickens, harvested heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and corn with Elyna,  stacked the other half of the fire wood, jarred the dried mint, figured out what the mystery herb was (lemon basil), and made lunch....and it's only 1:15. Now to shower, pick some herbs, make some bottle cap sculptures, and enjoy the rest of the day!
Meanwhile, our intern Jackson completed this list recently:
Fed fish, switched on grow light in aquaponics
Fed, watered chickens, checked for eggs
Organized green tomatoes inside according to ripeness
Cleaned upstairs bathrooms
Completed work on a trailer for one of the chicken coops
Went jogging 
We invite those staying at Better Farm to come up with projects that interest them, so the set curriculum here is always subject to change. Meeting the demands and imaginations of the people staying here has enriched our programming to include past and ongoing projects, including:
  • An upcoming hobbit house
  • Rainwater catchment systems
  • Cold frame construction
  • Forge building
  • Wood splitting
  • Aquaponics
  • Canning, blanching, and preserving
  • Vertical gardens
Better Farm functions for our interns and artists as a living laboratory in which to experiment, grow, and learn. But there's also an awful lot of bonding that goes on around here; with people opting to cook many meals together and invite members of the community out to enjoy family dinners, or participate in different projects on the property. Community outreach projects are determined by the people staying here; whether it's tabling at a local event, helping to paint the post office, offering workshops to the public, or building a community greenhouse.

Interest piqued? Click here to find out more.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.