When I woke up on Saturday morning, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to give up my only kids’ sports-free Saturday of the entire fall to go work on a farm. I wanted to sleep in, and then enjoy my coffee on what could have been a rare, relaxed Saturday morning. Instead, I found myself at the farmers market at 8 a.m. to buy vegetables for the dish I made for the potluck at Slow Food South Jersey’s Dig In! event.

 But, I committed to go help at Seventeen Farms in Tuckahoe, N.J., and so I hopped in the car and met up with about 20 other volunteers to help weed the strawberry patch on the organically run farm.

Seventeen Farms is a farm on seven acres that is start up Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. The CSA has 15 members, many of whom come out to volunteer at the farm on a regular basis. Owned and run by husband and wife Ken and Kath who also both have full-time jobs, it’s a peaceful place where chickens roam free, pollinating bees feast on flowers, and crops are grown to sustain people and the earth.

The work ended up not seeming like work at all because there were many hands to share in the weeding, and when you’re working and talking at the same time, time flies. Many of the volunteers brought their children, and two young mothers even carried their babies with them while they worked.

I had only been on the farm for about two minutes before I was glad I woke up early, got ready, and made my way to Seventeen Farms. I met some great people who are passionate about creating and supporting sustainable food systems in South Jersey, and enjoyed a delicious meal with them when the work was done. I wanted to share a few photos from the day with you.

Several of the volunteers digging in and helping to weed the strawberry patch at Seventeen Farms. Every once in a while, I would find a strawberry buried beneath the leaves, and each one was deliciously sweet and an early fall treasure.

Even the children lent a helping hand. Julian, age 7, helps out in the horse stables by sweeping cobwebs out of corners. He later got to help groom the horses.

I loved this makeshift table made from bales of hay. Since this was a Slow Food event, you know there was a lot of fresh food made from local ingredients. One of the things that struck me was that aside from perhaps some chicken broth in a couple of the soups that were on the table, all of the dishes were vegetarian. Everything was so good.

After the work was done, everyone sat down to eat and get to know each other better.

This is how chickens should get to live their lives – running around the barnyard as freely as they want. The chickens on this farm were all over the place.

I want to thank Ken and Kath from Seventeen Farms for inviting us to spend the day on their farm last Saturday. They sent each of us home with a bag of just picked greens from their farm — an unexpected treat.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Digging in and having fun
Photos of the fun from Slow Food South Jersey's Dig In! event.