Students intern in garden
Hatch and Kafka speak about the internship they completed this summer in the College’s organic garden.
On Dec. 2, students and faculty joined Julie Kafka ’12 and Nina Hatch ’13 in the Fairchild Room as they reflected on their internship experiences this summer in the College’s organic garden, “2 Feet 2 Bedrock.”
Kafka and Hatch lived on campus during their internships and worked closely with faculty and staff, including Associate Director of Dining Services Joe Klaus, who also attended the presentation to field questions. Both Klaus and interns Kafka and Hatch credited each other with making the project possible.
This summer marked the fourth season of the College’s organic garden and its third involving paid interns. According to Kafka and Hatch, maintaining the garden was as rewarding as it was arduous. The garden began its season in the Biology Department greenhouse, where Kafka and Hatch worked alongside the Colby Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (COFGA) in selecting and planting seeds for the season. Between late April and early May, the students transplanted the crops to Runnals Hill.
Summertime tasks included weeding, mulching and composting. Kafka and Hatch learned about composting first-hand when they built new cold compost units for the garden. They also learned about organic pest management, which on some days included turning over leaves by hand in search of Japanese beetles and other insects.
During their internship, Kafka and Hatch had the opportunity to visit local farms and food distribution centers, including Lakeside Family Farm, Boston Public Market and Senior Teaching Associate in Biology Tim Christensen’s Earth’s Green Garden Organic Farm.
Kafka learned from some of these distributors that, “if you didn’t have perfect produce, it wouldn’t be sold.” Hatch identified this demand for produce perfection as one of the problems with the modern food industry.
Over the course of their internship, the interns and several Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip (COOT) and Colby Community Involvement Trip (C2IT) groups harvested 4,131 pounds of produce including summer squash, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions and more. Some of this produce went to Dining Services and some was donated to local food banks. Once, the students delivered tomatoes to the Sacred Heart food pantry in Waterville. The delivery was the only donation of tomatoes the pantry received all summer.
In addition to working with food pantries, Kafka and Hatch also received visits from local residents who came to the Hill to see the garden. According to Hatch, the garden generated valuable “social capital” this summer.
Both students agreed that their hands-on experience this summer was “really fun” and more rewarding than an office internship. Kafka and Hatch noted that students looking for internships often focus on office-based work and do not consider outdoor projects like the organic garden.
Students interested in becoming an intern for the College’s organic garden next year can contact Joe Klaus to apply.