Friday, June 24, 2011

Who Wouldn't Weed a Hoop House for a Rhubarb Muffin?

Hello friends!

I am Emily Jaffe, an undergraduate student studying in the Program in the Environment at the University of Michigan. This summer I will be working as an intern for the Tilian Farm Development Center! My role for Tilian is to help organize volunteer events, seek opportunities in the community for partnership and connection, and to offer administrative support and working hours to the farmers.

The first volunteer event that I helped to arrange was Volunteer Orientation Night at Tilian Farm Development Center for the Four Season Farmer Incubator Project and its farmers! Project Manager Andrea Ridgard and I arrived a little before 5 to prepare the barn and awaited the arrival of volunteers coming to help Nate, Jill, Alex, Mark and Ben, Tilian’s dedicated young farmers.

By six ‘o clock, we were joined by six friendly folks, eager to get their hands dirty!

The evening began with delicious food—which is always the best way to start a night! We all gathered in the barn to enjoy fresh rhubarb muffins, homemade applesauce, veggies and a big salad—with Andrea’s newly harvested carrots & Seeley Farm greens!

The warm environment inside of Tilian’s barn accompanied with a scrumptious meal made for a great start to our Volunteer Orientation Night. Everyone introduced themselves—and we all got to know each other a little bit! Nate shared how Tilian operates and the importance of having and supporting Tilian and other similar small-scale, sustainable farms in our community.

After we were done talking, the farmers took us on a tour! We petted the goats, learned about the various types of onions, lettuces, artichokes and the numerous other vegetables growing at Green Things and Seeley Farm.

We also enjoyed watching as the baby pigs bounced toward us in a hurry with their flapping ears!

And, of course we snuck a snuggle with Porkchop…

Then, it was time to get to work. We headed to the wonderful 4,500 sq. ft. hoop house built by 70 volunteers in mid-April to terminate the weeds.

And what a success it was—together, we weeded almost all of the artichokes, tomatoes, eggplants and lettuces!

Please click on the link to learn more about Selma Café and their great help in creating the hoop house @ Tilian (

Unfortunately, the pesky mosquitoes found us after awhile…

So we found cover in the barn! We put volunteers to work making some awesome new Tilian t-shirts—which you can buy for 10$ at Tilian—and designing the north-east facing side of our sign on the Pontiac Trail.

From the beginning to end, it was an enjoyable and productive night.

I am so excited to have such an educational experience that allows me to meet and work with many kind and passionate people.

Most importantly, I would like to give a huge thank you to the volunteers:

Alex told me that it would have taken the Seeley & Green Things farmers several hours to complete all of the weeding that we accomplished in about 90 minutes in the hoop house. So—really, a huge shout out to everyone who helped us at Tilian!

I hope to see you at the next Tilian Volunteer Night on Monday from 5-9PM :)


  1. which is generally the best method to begin a night! most of us gathered within barn to appreciate refreshing rhubarb muffins, home made applesauce.

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  2. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

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