Hand tending a market garden, no matter how small, can be one of the most fulfilling projects, but it takes hard work, stamina and lots of time. Sometimes it feels like the days move in slow motion, with hundreds of feet to weed, thousands of feet of irrigation line to connect, a jillion tomato plants to trellis and dozens of bunches of greens to harvest.
Apprentices and volunteers make the world of difference for a farmer. They not only provide extra hands, but also extra enthusiasm! They have open eyes and ears, ready to absorb information and constantly in awe of the processes that take place in the garden.
Volunteers are always welcome to come experience the process of growing food. Send us an email with a little background info about yourself, relevant work experience and what motivates you to learn about growing food on a small organic and urban scale. Please specify whether you are interested in a regular long term commitment and include a telephone number where we can reach you.
Meet some of the current apprentices and people who have done apprenticeships at the Little River Market Garden in the past.
“My name is Tiffany and I’ve been volunteering at Little River since February of this year. Working at the garden provides me with a direct link to food production that is integral to my life, as I am very interested in food politics and sustainable agriculture. Every time I go to the garden I learn something new; getting this close to the process of growing food is incredibly educational. I’m not just learning about how to grow a good veggie but about local history, native and non native south Florida plants, if bananas like chickens (they do) and the challenges of running a responsible small business. South Florida is a challenging new region for me, as I have a bit of experience growing in more conventional climates. Ive never seen soil as alive with critters and crawlers as Florida soil! Every weed pulled is a small crisis, an explosion of insect residents that rush in every direction to find new shelter; and more often than I’d prefer that shelter is found inside my shoe. The climate here in the summer is so hot, wet and humid that its pretty much impossible for traditional European vegetables to grow but its amazing to see the local and tropical plants thrive in day after day of pouring rain and scorching heat. It makes for great mangoes!”
“My name is Jenna Balfe. I have been volunteering at Little RIver Farm since late summer 2011. I am a dancer, videographer, artist, teacher, entrepeneur and serious bike commuter. Miami is my hometown and my family has been here since 1911. I moved away at 25 to live in Spain for a bit and taught English. After this I moved to Massachusetts where I attended Hampshire College and then University of Massachusetts. I obtained a Bachelors degree which was self designed and titled: ” Environmental Studies and Movement as a form of Healing”. Since being back in Miami I have been working at the non-profit Naturelinks for Lifelong Learning as Creative Program Director.This organization works with developmentally delayed young adults teaching them skills to help them enter the work force into fields that relate to cooking and the natural world. I also worked as an assistant farmer for several months at Verde Farms in Homestead. I teach a dance class at Miami Dance Studio called Body Movement. I volunteer at the farm because I believe in growing food locally. I also believe that people need to get their hands in the dirt! Each time I go to volunteer, I leave a happier person. Muriel is wonderful and shares her vast knowledge of growing things casually as we work. It is a great learning experience where I also feel I am contributing to making change occur in regard to the way society deals with food. It is my belief that food systems are at the base of our current societal dischord.”
“My name is Crystal and I started volunteering at Little River Market Garden in the fall of 2010. I continued thru most of 2011. I am a pastry chef by trade and I love gardening. My parents are huge gardeners, although mostly ornamental plants and flowers, they got me in the soil at a young age. Being a chef it is only natural to want/ need a connection to the food I am preparing on a daily basis. I have always dabbled in container gardening of herbs and the occasional cucumber on my small balconies of my many apartments over the years, but I had never really known much about growing food on a larger and more diverse scale. After meeting Muriel at a small farms convention in the summer of 2010, I approached her about volunteering on her small urban farm. She was kind enough to let me come and leech information and knowledge from her in return for some hard labor and good conversation.
What I learned from my experience is priceless. It even got me to face my squeamishness around worms, lizards, and other bugs! I have learned about the importance of cover crops, different watering techniques, organic fertilizers (worms!) and of course composting! It can be back breaking work and some days will drain you of more energy than you started with, but when you pull a radish out of the ground or a peanut, or pick a tomato and pop it into your mouth while standing in the middle of the garden it’s the most rewarding moment to me. I have never felt so connected to the flow of nature and life as when I am pulling weeds and forming beds.
I am now on a seasonal contract in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, I have access to a greenhouse and a few outdoor beds. For the first time I have been able to put the skills learned at Little River Market Garden to the test and I am happy to report that most of what I planted for this short summer season is thriving!”
This is Andrea Lubrano who is vising Miami from New York for the winter. She is particularly interested in the anthropology and sociology of food, having volunteered at a non-profit called Just Food in NYC which makes farm fresh food available to families and individuals in need. Since late 2011 she has spent some time helping in the garden, but made her most significant contribution to the Little River Market Garden by selling our harvest at the North Miami Farmers Market.
This is Leslie, who began as an apprentice at the beginning of August 2011 and finished in December 2011. She writes:
“My work background is fairly eclectic: health educator, yoga instructor, social worker. I was drawn to the farmer apprenticeship while looking for an alternative to the office work I had been doing, with a desire to build on my passion for nature. Working on Muriel’s farm is physically challenging for me and also mentally stimulating…Each day is different and new skills are learned. My hope is to acquire more confidence to create a business for myself involving growing and selling food, educating people in creating their own gardens and to inspire my three children to take some risks and be creative in their own work lives. In addition to learning and working at Muriel’s farm, I have been growing wheatgrass at Earth N Us Farm and selling it at the S. Miami Farmer’s market on Saturdays.”