Seed to Table Internship conclusion
For about three months, from about Mid-May until mid-August, I spent my time on the SLU Sustainability Site as the Seed to Table Club summer intern. I have learned a great deal and was able to meet local farmers to hear about their experiences with trying to make a living of small-scale farming in the North Country and to see their different approaches to growing food for the local population.
Before starting this internship I was convinced that industrial farming will, contrary to what big companies want to argue, is not the best way of trying to feed and increasing population. After this summer experience, I still hold that true, but I feel like I can add 1000 more reasons on why I think that way.
However, during my time I have definitely also experienced how difficult, exhausting or just downright unfortunate organic small-scale farming can be. From encountering pests and diseases that killed or diminished some crops, to less-than-ideal weather conditions, farming is not what economists would call a safe investment. In fact, there are so many variables to a successful harvest, that sometimes I wonder how it is even possible that these plants even grow, with all the things that can go wrong.
But not only farming in itself is an adventure, so is trying to sell crops. As the Seed to Table intern it was my job to grow produce for Dana Dining hall and with that I encountered many problems that local farmers have too. From trying to convince people on a limited budget to spend more money on organic produce rather than buying from conventional growers and justifying why the produce I deliver is sometimes bumpy and has spots. Another challenge was coordinating with a student group that is scattered all over the country during summer break. A student club lives from the diversity of opinions, but that is also exactly what can make decisions slow and sometimes frustrating in the process.
Overall, I think I grew on these challenges as a student, an intern, and a person. I have realized that for the farmers I have met, this is not just a job, but a passion and that as a farmer you have to be internally optimistic: that your plants grow, that your harvest will be good, that people realize how important buying from local growers can be. And I think I will take that away for the future.