Every year, the farm at F&W hires interns to help us out and get ready for the camp season.  This year we ended up with a great group: Anna Brewer, Derek Cote, and Reece Rivas who came together as a team despite very different back grounds and farming experience. Their last day was November first, and I thought it might be fun to share their journey and some of the things that they had to say about the experience.

First though, I should give you a picture of what they walk into. The farm interns here really get the full gamut of farming, but this is certainly not true at many places. Typically, interns get assigned one thing (i.e. veggies, dairy, sugaring or meat) not all of the things.  A farm intern at F&W gets all of those and more, including birthing, death, animal husbandry, haying, pasture management, CSA, and farm education. They also work with the equally important “softer skills” as well, like dairy processing, canning and food preservation, and fiber arts.  Conversations about food preferences, farming styles, labels, and food systems are also thrown into the mix.

Things are already in progress when the new farm crew arrives. The greenhouse has been started, wood fires keep the baby plants warm and cozy, sugaring is happening, and farm animal babies are being born.  The interns, staffers Nic and Adam and I are figuring each other out. How will we work best together to keep this educational farm moving forward?  The snow on the ground makes it hard to conceive that anything green will ever appear, but we are on a fast-moving train to get them ready for the summer camp season. Despite our best efforts to get them ready, it’s something that they have to just do. With our support, the interns each get a camp farm to manage and they quickly become the eyes and ears for that farm.  They are tasked with making sure the farm is running smoothly so the camps can utilize it with their campers over the summer.  We don’t see them on a day-to-day basis during camp season, but we keep on task with a 7 am Monday morning breakfast, a weekly lunch, and a white board in the dairy barn.

When fall comes, the camp gets quiet again and we are in full harvest mode once our fall CSA is started.  In the fall we devote more time to looking into the farm product side of things. The interns are also sent to other places to check out different types of farming. With more vegetables than we know what to do with, pickling and canning the garden’s bounty is a frequent occurrence until cold temps bring our growing season to a close.

When asked to give advice to next year’s farm interns, this year’s crew responded, “Be ready for anything- really anything.” “Be flexible.”  “Be ready to work hard-physically- and no complaining.” “keep an open mind, always give it your best shot-there’s always a lot of unexpected.” “It’s a really unique program, be open to the experience, the educational farm allows you to roll with the punches.”

I absolutely love watching the interns grow from the spring when I wish I could do it myself, to the fall when I see them realize their potential.  I love watching them engage with the natural cycles of farming and figure out how to trouble-shoot what Mother Nature decides to throw our way in any given season. Watching them teach what they learned in the spring to the B&G summer staff,  to families at event weekends is pretty awesome.   I am so grateful to all of the farm interns that have come through here over the years- they really make this job worth it.

From L-R back row:  Nic Benson assistant farm manager, Derek Cote ( wearing a hat he knit) intern, Anna Brewer intern, Adam Gelroth Garden Manager, front row L-R Alexander Hewitt, Chantal Deojay farm manager and Reece Rivas intern (also wearing a hat he knit)

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