Driving down the long road into Paddington’s Farm, Piper the dog sprinted up to my car, barking in excitement. Tail wagging, her eyes bright, she practically welcomed me with a smile. The morning sun shone on the natural fauna, and I caught a glimpse of the horses peeking their faces out from the barn. A visitor? they seemed to have thought. As I got out of the car, Meera came out from her garage holding an assortment of markers and chalk. She gave me a big wave as I walked over to help her set up for the Kids’ Garden Party. 

I had been working as a remote summer intern for the past few weeks so I had only ever seen pictures of the farm. While the pictures are lovely, the farm truly looks like and is a sanctuary for animals and humans. Wildflowers billow in the breeze alongside the potted flowers, connecting nature with our domestic world. The goats munch on leaves and stain their beards with green. A thatch of strawberries grows on the roof of the new chicken coop. Meera picked one off and handed it to me. The berry was a deep red and had a rich sweetness only possible from a sun-ripened organic garden. 

The Kids’ Garden Party was a success. The children poked around the vegetable garden, pointing out purple eggplants, beetles, and butterflies fluttering in and out of the party. One boy proudly held up a turnip and said, “This is the ripest turnip ever!” Their glee was infectious. I hadn’t seen kids so excited about vegetables in a while, but Paddington’s Farm has that effect on people. At one point, Gronk the goat snuck under his fence for some greener grass. I scrambled to grab his lead, resulting in some laughter from our guests. He gave me a bored look and went back to snacking, unconcerned with escaping. I grinned and gave his shoulders a scratch.

The joy on the farm is so palpable, I nearly forgot the reason for the farm’s existence. I saddened at the thought of the pain the animals had experienced. I gazed into the cow Paddington’s big, innocent eyes and wondered how anyone could cause harm to him. Working for this internship, however, has proved to me that there are many, many people willing to stand up for the animals who need them. This summer, I’ve talked to countless people who want to help our farm in one way or another. We’ve seen more volunteers, donations, and people spreading the word about our farm. The care that people have for our animals is limitless. 

At the end of the day, Meera filled my arms with more vegetables than I could carry. I protested, but she shook her head. “There’s more than enough for everybody!” Piper jogged at my side as she escorted me back to my car, and I waved goodbye. That night, I enjoyed a rainbow of roasted vegetables as I reminisced about the day. For all of the animal lovers, vegetable enthusiasts, and members of our community, I highly recommend a visit to Paddington’s Farm. 

-Alena

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