Another exciting season is underway here at the Hampshire College Farm! This summer we have a terrific group of interns helping with everything from growing turmeric to breeding pigs to changing the oil in a tractor. One rainy morning over a hot cup of coffee and some doughnuts we asked them about their experiences so far and their future plans.
April Nugent, Ben Matcho, Lee Graves, Owen Aptekar-Cassels, Fiona Helene Kusza
April Nugent, from Hampshire College, has worked as a livestock intern on the farm for the past two seasons; this will be her third. She is working with Livestock Manager Pete Solis on an independent research project about breeding pigs at the farm. She says, “I really enjoy the work I do here and I feel it will really benefit me in the future. I hope to use all the problem-solving and livestock management skills I’ve learned here when I go on to manage my own farm someday.” She adds, “One of the most interesting things I’ve learned so far is how to realign a tire on its rim using ratchet straps. Nifty and useful!”
Ben Matcho, a Smith College student, was interested in doing a summer internship at Hampshire because of the opportunity to learn how a farm works. He has enjoyed learning how to change the oil in a tractor, although learning to drive one is still a little intimidating. He says he likes this better than any other job he has had so far – much better than dishwashing!
Lee Graves, who recently graduated from Hampshire, studied Agricultural and Microbial Ecology and wanted to add some more hands-on, practical experience to his studies. Last year he worked on the weeding crew because “getting dirty, working hard, and having fun while doing so is very rewarding. I love being part of the local food system, helping provide delicious and nutritious food for the Hampshire community.” He is most excited about learning how to plant ginger and turmeric, two new crops now being produced at the farm. He hopes to someday have his own market garden or farm brewery.
Owen Aptekar-Cassels, a returning intern from Hampshire, says “There’s a kind of material accomplishment in planting or hoeing a field that doesn’t happen much in other parts of my life, like the slow process of learning in school, so it’s a really welcome change of pace. I also love learning about different plants and seeing them through their life cycles. I really like that I’ve gotten to see the farm over multiple seasons, because I’ve learned about how weather, implements, seed availability, tractors, etc., affect choices about how and what is grown. I also like learning how specific soil conditions and nutrients affect crops.” Owen enjoys visiting other farms as part of the internship, as a method of understanding food systems and learning how farms of different scales function. They say, “I could see myself farming in the future, maybe having a farm with friends – but really, who knows?! But the idea of having a farm together currently resonates with a lot of my closest friends, a number of whom are queer farmers.”
Fiona Helene Kusza, a current Hampshire student, says, “Normally I work with cows, so I wanted to broaden my farm experience. I also wanted to learn how to use equipment, so that I could add that to my resume, and learn how to plant veggies, because in the future I want to do beef production and also farm vegetables.” She is excited about learning how to operate a tractor and increasing her knowledge of soil science. Her goal is to one day own her own beef and veggie farm, perhaps in conjunction with her sister, who wants to wants to raise horses.