Meet Tamika and Lindsey. Two students from Vassar College share their experiences of interning with Poughkeepsie Farm Project through the Office of Community-Engaged Leaning.
Ed. Note: This article has been adapted from pieces Tamika and Lindsey wrote for Vassar College's Office of Community Engaged Learning Newsletter. It has been edited for clarity.
My name is Tamika and I am a prospective Environmental Studies major. I am an Education Intern with Poughkeepsie Farm Project this semester. I’m interested in local food systems and food justice. Since PFP is a local community farm project committed to making fresh produce accessible to the Poughkeepsie community, I am gaining real experience on how a community-minded food and agriculture organization operates. PFP offers community supported agriculture (CSA) shares of fresh produce to the local community and also provides a variety of programming both at the farm site and in the Poughkeepsie community. My work as an education intern thus far has primarily been with the meditation garden at the PFP site on Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve. I help out every week during the open volunteer gardening time, primarily with weeding and other maintenance of the plant beds and medicine garden. This work has made me realize how much hands-on love and care goes into growing plants. I have also learned a lot about herbalism and the many uses of plants from PFP’s volunteer herbalist, Beatrix Clarke.
Working at the meditation garden has really made me realize the relationship between the community and the garden, too. I definitely notice a difference in the amount of work we can accomplish and visible change in the garden on the days when we have lots of volunteers as opposed to the days when it is just me and the PFP staff. I think this really speaks to the importance of community support for PFP.
My name is Lindsay Irwin - I am a Sophomore Drama and intended English Double-Major participating in a Community-Engaged Learning Opportunity through Vassar. I’m an Education Intern at Poughkeepsie Farm Project, which allows me to fuse my interests in Education, English and Drama. Each week, I bike up the road to the farm and prepare myself to spend 4-5 hours doing something different that feeds my love of nature and inspires me to write poetry and short creative pieces which will eventually culminate into one large or multiple small final pieces. Each time I’ve gone to the farm, I’ve contributed to my journal with notes and images that will eventually lead to my final creative project.
So far in my farm adventures, I have tabled for PFP at parent-teacher conferences at a local Poughkeepsie public school, led cooking workshops for local elementary students, planted garlic on Halloween to bond with the farm crew, and my personal favorite, directed a short play about the parts of plants starring students on a field trip to PFP. This community engaged learning opportunity has really pushed me to use my skills in a new way outside of the classroom and blended my passions, letting me pass on my enthusiasm to these local students, and learn from them as well.
Going off-campus for a few hours a week definitely puts me in a creative mindset and allows me to get a taste of what it would be like to teach kids theatre in the real world, work on a farm, and write professionally from natural inspiration.