Decatur Farm to School summer internship

Mist blankets the crops as the sun starts to peek through the clouds. A rusty old sign, hanging on the fence, reads “no pesticides.” Looking out, you see life within the fields, dew forming on their leaves. The 1.5 acres at Gaia Gardens is small yet utilized to the fullest, stretching the full potential of the soil. It is June 12, my first day of work, and the word “organic” already seems to have more meaning.

It seems like everywhere you go new products are popping up with “organic” labels. Perhaps the most intimate way I learned this came from crawling around the fields pulling weeds. For the internship learned everything from crop rotation to the idea of sustainable agriculture and how it all came together to support this urban, organic farm. There are so many other suitable methods to maintaining proper growth rather than just chemically altering our vegetables. Tending to vegetables with more traditional methods such as trellising tomatoes, covering watermelons, and literally squishing the “bad bugs” taught me the logistics of organic farming. The internship was intended to teach me about Farm to School program, but these hands on tasks got me much closer to the subject than I ever imagined.

I went from physically tending to the organic vegetables to applying it to real restaurant dishes. I saw the behind the scenes work of the chefs at Farm Burger and Iberian Pig and got a first-hand look into how they utilized the locally grown produce.

Just because something is labeled organic, doesn’t mean it has to be bland. These restaurants prove that the dishes filled with organic vegetables can be just as delicious. The chefs based their menus on what was in season and what the local farms could offer them, thus ensuring the quality of the product.

My internship ended with sun-kissed cheeks from long afternoons in the garden, tired feet from the bustling kitchen and a much greater knowledge and appreciation for the word “organic.” Tending to and cooking organic vegetables takes much dedication and planning, though in the long run, the crisp, ripe, flavorful vegetables will have your taste buds thanking you.

Decatur Farm to School Summer Internship Application 2013