Ask Eartha: How can students get involved in sustainable ag? | SummitDaily.com
Eartha Steward
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Ask Eartha: How can students get involved in sustainable ag?

Dear Eartha,

I'm studying sustainability in college and I'm really interested in sustainable agriculture. I've noticed some greenhouses and gardens around the county, do you know how I can get my hands dirty and get involved?

– Sam, Dillon

Thank you for your question, Sam. Now that the snow is melting, we can start fantasizing about lush gardens and bountiful flowers. Food is a huge part of sustainability, and hats off to you for wanting to do your part. Let's start with some background on the benefits of local farming and gardening.

It's important for everyone to learn the story of food. If you shop at a grocery store, the first step is acknowledging where your food currently comes from and the energy involved in growing, harvesting, transporting and landfilling it. Bringing small farms back into communities helps cut down on energy and emissions in transportation and packaging, provides healthy food options, eliminates toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and helps circulate money back into the local economy. Not to mention, there is something very comforting about knowing exactly where your food came from.

We are fortunate here in Summit County to have opportunities to grow our own food or purchase it from local farmers markets or from a Community Supported Agriculture farm, or CSA. If you are a student looking to get deeply involved in the behind-the-scenes operations of locally grown food, apply for one of High Country Conservation Center's Summit CSA internships. The Summit CSA is a partnership between local farmers and members of our community. The farmer agrees to provide high-quality produce for members, who in turn agree to support the farmer by purchasing a share for the entire growing season.

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Community Supported Agriculture Internship

In HC3's case, CSA also stands for "Cultivating Students of Agriculture" because the program involves students in the management of the farm. Students gain experience as farmers, volunteer managers and entrepreneurs through a sustainable food operation that directly benefits our community. Students also help coordinate all garden- and food-related projects including food production, produce sales, marketing and outreach. Of course, interns get their hands dirty sowing seeds, irrigating, weeding, composting and harvesting.

In addition to working in the greenhouses, students engage in activities focused on environmental education and nonprofit job training. Finally, students have the opportunity to dive into their individual skills and interests by completing an in-depth project of their choice such as nutrition and recipes, soil fertility and garden longevity. The goal for this program is to inspire students to start careers in the healthy food and sustainability movement. Not to mention, it is an excellent steppingstone for graduate school applications and resumes.

Grow to Share Internship

HC3 also offers a Grow to Share Internship which, in partnership with the local Women, Infants and Children and Family Intercultural Resource Center, coordinates distribution of surplus fresh produce grown in the Summit CSA and community gardens to families in need. Wasted food is a major issue when it comes to sustainability, and this internship offers a solution by providing excess food to residents, thereby keeping edible food out of the waste stream. The Grow to Share intern works with volunteers to plant, collect and deliver fresh produce to families in need.

The intern also works closely with program partners, Summit County WIC, FIRC and the interns and volunteers to deliver educational workshops and opportunities for their clients. Responsibilities include securing growing space, organizing the planting of surplus garden plots, coordinating volunteers, maintaining food drop-off sites, delivering food, preparing donations, tracking donated food, communicating with program partners, and delivering a project report with recommendations for growth of the program.

Through either of these internships you have the opportunity to make a direct positive impact in the community while also gaining experience and skills in sustainable food production. To learn more and apply, visit HighCountryConservation.org/SummitCSA or call 970-668-5703. Help us cultivate a more sustainable community.

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at info@highcountryconservation.org.