Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Class H Garlic Planting

Thanks to Mindy, Class H, Farm Stay 1, and our parent volunteers for a great day yesterday planting garlic and harvesting popcorn. 

Our goal on garlic planting day is to plant over 3600 cloves of garlic in a little over an hour. It is a simple process. 

Before Class H arrives, we need to fertilize and till the beds. We spread the massive pile of compost using the front-end loader of the tractor. When the garden beds are tilled and fluffy, then we mark three rows per bed and mark holes every six inches in the row. Then we need to break the garlic heads apart into cloves. On planting day, we place one clove in each hole, every six inches. Once the whole bed has garlic in every hole, we push the garlic down into the soil and smooth over the surface. Finally, we bring straw up to the garden in order to mulch it with 8 inches of lofted straw. 

When Class H arrives we try to create a self-organizing intelligent community of workers. There are several jobs, and we teach the students how to do every job. Then once we start planting, the students go to the job that most calls to them. If there is a part of the job that requires more hands, we ask students to switch jobs. In an ideal world, all of the work gets done and everyone gets to do a variety of jobs.  

It takes some patience to oversee the intelligent-mob planting method, because everything is happening all at once. Groups are breaking the heads into cloves, while others are placing and planting garlic, and others are getting straw and spreading it for mulch. There are moments when the system breaks down. We have too many people hauling straw and we have to take a time-out from straw hauling.  Or there is the moment when we run out of cracked garlic and need an emergency crew to start splitting the heads up faster. But in general the system works amazingly well. We notice that the adult chaperones and a few student leaders took the planting and helped keep the rest of the students motivated. There were a few children who occasionally needed redirection because they were too exuberant, but in general the whole class worked very well together until all of the garlic was planted and mulched. What a joy!

After the garlic planting, we went over to the Homestead and picked popcorn and carrots and ate some of each.

Thank you Class H!

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