It’s a summer morning on the Gann farm and I am sitting on a small cushion in a circle of new friends under our big, white tent. With my eyes closed, I open my ears to the sounds of the leaves rustling around me and the high-pitched conversations of the birds. Wow—hallelujah. Modeh Ani. I am grateful. In that moment, rather than being filled with anxiety at the unknowns of my surroundings, I am learning to tune into awe and gratitude, and know that I can simply allow life to be.

At Shomrei Adamah, the summer teen farm internship program I participated in last summer, we always began and closed the day with a “circle,” centering ourselves in gratitude and reflection. When we first started this practice, I was skeptical about what I would get out of this time. But as we went through the summer, I learned, yet again, that you only get out as much energy as you put into an experience. The circles proved a powerful way to ground myself in the present and recognize all the natural beauty around me, rain or shine, heat or cold.

Shomrei Adamah is not just about sitting in circles and listening. We also spend much of our days in motion: planting and harvesting vegetables, cooking farm-fresh lunches, singing while shoveling mulch and welcoming visitors to the farm. The days are full of laughter and sweat, new tastes and smells, hard questions and big dreams.

At the end of the summer, each of us reflected on the community we had created, one where each of us was welcome to bring our whole selves. A community where everyone is learning, including the staff, and mistakes are viewed as opportunities for growth. A community where kindness is cool.

And when the workday was over, it was impossible for me to walk away from the farm without having a feeling of accomplishment that I contributed to a greater whole.

If this sounds like something you want to be part of, join me at one of our upcoming Zoom info sessions and start working on your application! This summer farm community is built through the gifts of each of its members, and we would love to have you this summer.

Laurel Obermueller is a senior at Gann Academy and will be joining the class of 2026 at Vassar College. Laurel loves to be on theater crew, make art, farm and read. Laurel has lived in eight cities and is grateful to have landed in such a supportive community at Gann Academy.

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