On Saturday October 15, the refugees took their last field trip of the year to go apple picking and picnicking! It was a huge success and a joyous day for all. 106 refugees rode together on two crowded school buses to Solly Brothers Farm in Ivyland, PA. Most of the group were regulars of Growing Home who have been a part of the urban farm since the start of the project earlier this year. However, new families, who have arrived over the past few weeks, also joined the trip and connected with the community. It was a beautiful day and a great mix of families – elders and children, Nepali, Karen, and Chin.
Although the season is not fully over, this trip represented the culmination of a great year at Growing Home and a celebration of the hard work of all those involved in the project. Adam Forbes, the farm manager for Growing Home, had visualized this trip earlier in the year.
“Since the start of the season, I’ve dreamed of taking our families to trips outside the city,” said Adam. “At the top of my list was apple picking in the fall. My fondest childhood memories are falls on the east coast and the times I got to go to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch. It was a true honor to be able to share this with our vibrant…refugee communities.”
The excitement of the participants was palpable at Growing Home an hour before the group was supposed to leave with a large crowd already formed. The families rarely arrive so early for anything – so this meant a lot. They boarded the buses in the cool morning air and began their trip to the orchards. For many of the families, it was their first time outside of Philadelphia since they arrived in the United States. The entire bus ride they pointed out the views of the Delaware river and were so excited to see corn fields and peach orchards similar to the ones found in their homelands.
As soon as the group arrived at the farm, the families took off running. They loved the pumpkin patch but were thoroughly confused as to why pumpkins are not eaten, but are instead bought for decoration. Later, they all got to take a hayride to the apple orchard. Each person got bags to place their apples in and families worked together to climb apple trees to find the sweetest or tartest apple. Some families even found wild edibles hidden among the orchard to bring home. After apple picking, playing in the orchards, and eating as many apples as they could – the group enjoyed a community picnic with an abundance of traditional foods.
Lunch turned into play time for both kids and adults. Games from soccer to Frisbee and duck duck goose were played. Seeing the excitement of the families at the opportunity to get out of the city for a day reminded Adam how important these type of events are.
Adam elaborated saying, “While our urban farms provide a much needed green space in the city and a place to relax and come together – it is not the same as escaping the city to wide open fields.”
Since Saturday, the families have been raving about the trip with some even declaring it their favorite day since they arrived. Some refugee children have been bringing apples from the trip to school for lunch.
Overall it was a great day and a wonderful way to enjoy each other’s company as the season winds down on the first year of Growing Home!