By Emily Cardinali – WUFT Contributor
On a normal day at Swallowtail Farm, people are out in the fields, picking and planting fruits and vegetables. Someone might be at the barn preparing produce for a farmers market, and Isabel, a great Pyrenees guardian dog, will be freely loping around in a happy, doggy daze.
On Saturday, guests can visit the farm, at 17603 NW 276th Lane in Alachua, for the farm’s fourth annual Swallowtail Spring Festival from noon to 10 p.m. The entry fee is based on a sliding donation scale from $10 to $20, and children 12 and younger can participate for free.
The festival will feature community businesses in a celebration of the season. Attendees can expect live music, food trucks and other family activities like farm tours, face painting and garden planting. Workshops that explore different aspects of country life are also on the agenda.
Some locally led workshops include demonstrations on composting by representatives from Gainesville Compost and a beer brewing workshop hosted by Tall Paul’s Brew House. Other country living workshops will be offered on skills like homesteading, weaving and pottery.
Swallowtail Farm aims to incorporate the community into the farming process by providing food to local restaurants and hosting events like the Spring Festival, among other initiatives.
Sarah Schrader, an apprentice at Swallowtail, said programs that bring farms and the community together are important “to form a relationship with the people who grow your food so you know more about where it’s coming from and how it’s made.”
“The community aspect is so important to [the farm]. To have people on the farm, beauty on the farm, to have the farm be a place of healing and community really, in a way, is just as important as the productivity of the farm,” said Noah Shitama, a farmer at Swallowtail.
Through having very open relationships with the community, Swallowtail Farm hopes to teach people about the value and importance of locally grown food.
“If we want to pay for our health in a positive way, we will buy good food and pay a little bit more for something that actually has nutrition, doesn’t have chemicals and is actually strengthening us,” Shitama said.