When visually impaired volunteers show up to cut cabbage the list of potential pitfalls piles up fast; sharp knives, uneven footing and total lack of experience. What could go wrong?
As it turned out, nothing. The young men and women, aged 12 to 20 are participants in the LEAP program, a life skills and employment training program here in northern VT. They arrived at 9 am.
The tasks were divided according to visual acuity. Which of the heads to cut was determined by sight and then by touch. The immature cabbage, when squeezed, felt puffy and yielding. The ready heads were hard and crisp.
The selection made, the next step was to push down the loose wrapper leaves to expose the butt of the cabbage, the spot to make the harvesting slice. As heads were severed they were piled for collection by wheelbarrow and then transported to the end of the field where the trimming and bagging crews took over.
The spirit was infectious. One participant had a smile that could light a room. Two others who felt they had nothing to contribute soon were. The 30 bags made quite a pile and there was pride that their efforts would help feed hungry Vermonters that very evening. 1200 pounds they harvested and packed in three hours, eight rookie farm workers.
Experiences, like people, are not to be prejudged.