Deliveries haven’t started yet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a mountain of work to be done for our Agriculture Supported Communities program. Seeding, bed prepping, transplanting, etc. etc. etc… As you can imagine, we were happy to welcome to latest batch of farmers-in-training a few weeks ago. And now we’d like to introduce them to you! The ASC program, in addition to growing and distributing delicious and affordable organic produce, is also the training grounds for future farmers. The ASC interns learn every aspect of starting up, maintaining and running a small organic grower’s business and, at the end of the season, can go back to their communities with the foundational tools to start their own businesses. Here is our 2014 Crew…
John is from the Lower East Side of New York City and became interested in food justice after reading The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin and Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. The latter fully describing an overview of our industrial food system and its devastating economic and social implications; the former providing solutions to similar ills and imagining a more beautiful world. He worked at Added-Value community farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn and, at the same time, became a member of his local food cooperative on 4th street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He also apprenticed under an expert gardener—Rodolphe Grosleziat. Inspired by witnessing first-hand the impact Added-Value had on the immediate community, John is now enrolled at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, studying urban agriculture and democratic workplaces.
Much of his knowledge in food systems is theoretical: understanding the importance of biodiversity, the role a farm can have in education, and the social and economic ramifications of an urban farm. John is at Rodale to build a more holistic understanding of agriculture, knowing how to manage a farm and the day to day activities that are necessary to keep it running. After he finishes his academic work at Hampshire and his internship at the Rodale Institute he hopes to found and co-own a farm in an urban area, perhaps in NYC, perhaps Allentown.
Danni has volunteered at the Quiet Valley living historical farm as well as at the Garden of Giving. In November of 2013 she completed her first full farming apprenticeship at Big Train Farm in Providence RI. After finishing at Rodale she plans to pursue several more apprenticeships focusing on animal husbandry, beekeeping, and medicinal herb farming before starting her own small scale organic farm.
Olivia is a graduate of environmental studies from Hiram College. While at school she conducted ornithological field research and fell in love with spending her summers outdoors from dawn until dusk, following the changes and patterns of a season. She had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the power of an organic farm to provide not only great food but meaningful work and opportunities to those in need during her time working with adults with Autism at the Hiram Farm Living and Learning Community. It wasn’t until traveling around the country and working on various farms as part of the WWOOF program, however, that she actually started to think about farming as a career option. From milking goats in the wilds of New Mexico to harvesting beets in the Adirondacks, she found that great farmers around the country were doing more than producing quality food—they were igniting a desire in young people to venture into a practice that less than two percent our country’s population now claims as an occupation. Wanting to be part of that movement she now finds herself at the Rodale Institute, working towards a goal of starting her own farm in the future and feeding her need for another season of dirty hands, hard work, and fresh beets.
Alex originally became interested in agriculture through the literary works of Tolstoy and his descriptions of peasant life in rural Russia. He joined the student garden at the University of Virginia where he learned the basics and, shortly afterwards, he began to study edible wild plants. The following summer Alex WWOOFed for the first time at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in Mineral, Virginia where he experienced his first larger agricultural operation. That fall, he studied abroad in Japan and was able to continue his experiential study of agriculture by working on rice paddies on weekends and WWOOFing on a large-scale dairy operation in Hokkaido when the semester had ended. Once back in the U.S., he continued to WWOOF on farms in West Virginia and Virginia while working on plans to develop an acorn-based product. He graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Japanese language and literature in December.
Kathline’s interest in farming grew out of her realization of how far removed she was from her food source while growing up in Brooklyn. In her senior year at St. John’s University, she pursued that interest in food by starting a food studies intensive internship at Heritage Radio Network. Being around people who were actively engaged in their local food economies inspired her. In many ways it shaped the course of her present career goals and the role she would like to play in shaping the future of food; not as a passive consumer, but actively engaged in bettering her local food economy. She began working with Local Roots CSA and found the experience exhilarating as she was able to connect communities with their food source. While she was excited about this opportunity she wanted to reach a broader community of under-served peoples. She knows her experience at Rodale Institute will serve as a launching pad for her career as a grower.