By Lilianna Bento
I started my Energy Corps service on the SIFT (Small-Scale Intensive Farm Training) Farm mid-May and have had the pleasure of watching spring unfold in Butte and have had to overcome obstacles associated with my service. Weather has been a persistent obstacle from rain keeping me indoors to snow threatening the viability of the crops and strong winds that tear apart the farm infrastructure. But amid COVID-19 and the weather interference, the SIFT Farm has been working diligently to cultivate produce for the community.
I find satisfaction in working outdoors with my hands — especially when I am cultivating crops. There is a sense of accomplishment when one sows seeds, cares for the seedlings, and finally gets to harvest the final product. Most of the farm is watered using drip irrigation which delivers water right next to the plant, making more efficient use of the water used on the farm. The SIFT Farm has been busy planting a variety of produce around the farm from strawberries and herbs to lettuce mix and beans. The produce grown on the farm will be donated into the community, mainly through the local food bank. The farm also had its first harvest of greens and radishes June 11th and will harvest them again soon. Recently, we planted tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash which will ripen later in the season.
With my service, I want to improve pollinator habitats and demonstrations on the farm. With the help of a few children, I planted a pollinator garden next to the kid’s plots. This garden will be full of flowers and grasses to be used by pollinators as a source of nectar, pollen, and possibly even shelter. The pollinator garden will be beneficial to a wide array of pollinators, not limited to the European Honeybee, including bumble bees, native bees, wasps, flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, and ants.
I hope to use the knowledge I gain through my service in my own garden (or dare I say homestead) in the future. Implementing sustainable practices on my land such as drip irrigation, pollinator strips, and composting will increase resilience and maintain environmental equity. For now, I look forward to working with my hands, sowing more seed, and making a difference in my community during the rest of my short 4-month service.