One of the most important ways that we feel we give back to the community is our farm apprentice program. A substantial part of our farm crew consists of apprentices who work with us and get a year of training on the road to becoming the next generation of organic farmers. The apprentices become a real part of the fabric of the farm, to the point that we mark our memories by who was an apprentice in a given year. We like to profile our apprentices for the newsletter, and this year we are a little late in that task, finally getting to profile Lauren Ingram as a final goodbye, since today is her last day of work.

Lauren comes to us from her farm in County Cork, Ireland. She and her mother started Willow Grove 2 years ago in the town of Ballydehob, but have been unable to fulfill all of their goals until they could establish EU citizenship. Lauren came to work with and learn from us at Simple Gifts while her status was working itself out. She got the word a few weeks ago that her citizenship papers were complete, so she will be shipping out to go home on Sunday!

Lauren was this year’s livestock apprentice, with her focus on the weekly maintenance of their movement across the farm as we rotate them around the farm. The constant movement of the animals turns their potentially destructive impact on the land into a powerful engine of soil-building. The animals may have been her focus, but she has also excelled at many other tasks, including ace tractor operation and a fantastic proficiency with technology and the organizational setup at the farm store. True to form, when asked about her favorite job on the farm, Lauren replied “working with the animals, because of their different personalities. The animals really show their gratitude in a way that vegetables don’t.” Her favorite vegetable is delicata squash, which likes to put into a fritata.

Upon her return to Ireland, she will be working on building up her own livestock operation, which currently includes Nubian milking goats and Gloucester Old Spot pigs. She hopes to get into the Skibbereen Farmer’s Market to sell eggs and meat. We wish her the best of luck out there, and thank her for all of her hard work.

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