Interview with Garrison Benson
by Christi Carpenter and Garrison Benson
Intern Garrison (Gary) Benson has been working at Three Roods Farm since mid-May and plans to stay to the end of the season. After his month and a half of farm experience, we managed to talk this dashing but bashful intern into a rare interview.
Christi: How did you come to be at Three Roods Farm?
Garrison: I recently graduated from Hope College with a Computer Science degree and wanted to learn something more practical and holistic than what I used to do, which is sit around in front of screens. WWOOFing in general and Three Roods in particular sounded awesome, so here I am!
Christi: What is a first impression that has changed over your stay?
Garrison: When I first arrived I thought the chickens were disgusting. (Who wants to stick their hand under a chicken? There could be anything down there!) When I got over that, I thought they were mean, because they’re always pecking at me. Now, after many weeks of egg-collecting, I’m starting to realize that pecking is about the closest thing there is to chicken affection. I know they love me – they just have a weird way of showing it.
Christi: What is the biggest surprise about farm living that you’ve discovered?
Garrison: How little control we have over everything. We don’t control anything, just guide it. A farmer is like an orchestra conductor, coordinating all the plants and animals who make the music themselves.
Christi: What is your favorite time of day on the farm?
Garrison: It’s a three-way toss up between breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food here is delicious, especially the food that comes from the garden.
Christi: What is a skill you’ve acquired from being here?
Garrison: Scything. Actually, I’m still bad at scything, but I feel like I’m improving.
Christi: And what else have you learned?
Garrison: Observation is the most important skill on a farm. Without observation of nature, agriculture could never have existed, and only with continued observation can it be sustained indefinitely.
Christi: What is the most interesting task you’ve done while here?
Garrison: Depends what you mean by “interesting”. Burying human poop [from the composting toilet], that’s pretty interesting. To be serious, though, the individual tasks are not very exciting – what’s exciting is the way they all come together, the overarching patterns that emerge. For instance, how thoroughly you weed one day might mean whether or not you have to weed the same bed again in a few weeks. On the other hand, if you weed too aggressively you might damage the crops.
Christi Carpenter, a two-week intern, declined an interview, possibly due to a desire to hide her troubling past.