Posted by: Staff | 03.14.2008

College Essay XIII: Kelly

KELLY KRETSCHMAR ’08

Sometimes what is most important in life is revealed in an instant, like a flash of lightning or a moment of truth. Often a significant event, like a wedding or a death, can strongly impact a person. For me, there has not been a single event, but rather a special place that, for five years, has allowed me to grow, learn and share myself in a way that makes me proud. That place is Allandale Farm, where I have found independence and a sense of identity.

Allandale Farm is the only working farm in Boston. It has beautiful fields and greenhouses, which I have grown to appreciate. On the farm, I feel comfortable and needed, both working with counselors and campers in the summer nature program, and as a year-round store employee in the retail greenhouse. Every day at the farm, I have had the opportunity to experience something special and to share my knowledge and personality with others, no matter what age they are.

On one particularly hot morning last summer at Allandale, my four-year-old camper, Sophie, needed my help in catching a frog. Whispering in her ear, I told her that the best way to catch a frog is to pretend that you are a detective. Together we stood on the pond’s bank, so still that the frogs could not sense us. Within a minute, green eyes started to appear on the surface of the water, and I spotted a small frog facing away from us. With Sophie holding on to the net, I moved quickly and swung it over the creature. On tiptoe, Sophie tried to see into the muddy net, and with one small hand, she felt around inside. Suddenly, she smiled brightly and lifted her catch to show me. Moments like that make me happy to be involved with children in a natural farm habitat.

In addition to the summer camp, two years ago, I began a new challenge, spending my summers and weekends in the Allandale retail store as a member of the hardworking and friendly staff. I performed various tasks as a cashier, shelf stocker, display designer, and store opener and closer. Some jobs required me to step outside my comfort zone by interacting with customers of all ages and styles. Gradually, I developed confidence in my ability to communicate with retail clients. Questions that customers asked me ranged from what organically grown means to why there are white spots on a tomato plant. Learning how to respond to all of these questions was difficult, but I was able to find answers directly from the farmers who work every day in the fields. Since they are mostly from Latin America, we communicated in Spanish, and through them I have been able to get a good sense of what farm work is. No longer afraid of not knowing an answer, I now am comfortable asking others for help.

One part of Allandale Farm that I love very much is its connection to the surrounding community. Many of the customers come from great distances to use Allandale’s produce for their homes, shops, parties, and restaurants. Last summer, a customer came in and filled three shopping baskets full of food. When she arrived at the check out, I questioned what she was doing with all of it, and she told me she was a personal chef. Two of the baskets were for the families for whom she cooked, and the third was for her. Every Sunday, she returns to the farm, refilling her baskets with fresh produce. I have continued to ask her what she plans to create, and she always makes my mouth water with the amazing meals that she is about to prepare. It makes me proud to know and communicate with talented people who appreciate the farm that I cherish.

At Allandale Farm, I continue to experience something different from many of my peers at school. I have the opportunity to share myself in a public place where food is grown and sold, children are welcome, and the environment is respected. Though I am used to the fast-paced traffic and crowds of Boston, I am proud to work in the tranquil environment of a farm, both for others and myself.

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