When I started my college career, I didn’t have a very good idea of what I wanted to do. I knew I was interested in food, but didn’t know what part of the food industry I wanted to study and learn about. When taking environmental science my second semester, I realized that sustainability in agriculture is not only a growing field economically, but also very much in line with my ethics.
Starting then I began searching for farms I could work in over the summer, and through some mutual friends I found Wardensville Garden Market. My six week internship at Wardensville was an incredibly enriching experience. The farm itself is set up in a way that allows for an enormous variety of crops, ranging from leafy greens, to tomatoes, to carrots, eggplants, etc. The other key concept I learned about sustainably agriculture in Wardensville was succession planting, which allows for different crops to be planted throughout different seasons. Since I came in right at the transition from spring to summer, I got to see a couple of successions happen. Other sustainable practices used at Wardensville were using organic fertilizers, using cover crops, and not using any sort of pesticides.
My daily tasks included weeding, harvesting, washing produce, planting, pruning, trellising and collecting eggs amongst other things. These were all very enjoyable because they were mostly done outdoors, and required me to use my hands which I
loved. Part of the beauty of this kind of small scale farm is the fact that doing tasks like weeding, trellising, and washing can be done by hand. This made the experience of growing and harvesting much more personal and enjoyable. Of course, during these weeks I got to learn the look, feel, and taste of certain plants at their optimal stage. For instance, I had actually never seen an asparagus plant before working at Wardensville. Nor, had I ever distinguished ripe from underripe sugar snap peas. At one point I was tasked with pruning tomato vines which were overloaded with fruit, and I had to determine which ones to pick and which ones to leave on the plant. This sort of quick practical knowledge enriched my experience and heightened my learning at Wardensville.
Another wonderful aspect of working at Wardensville was getting to know the people I worked with. Not only were they extremely friendly, but also very patient and willing to teach me. It was so great to work under Joshua Stainthorp, who is so knowledgeable and passionate about what he is doing. His enthusiasm for agriculture and Wardensville was very contagious and was definitely evident in the rest of the farm staff as well. The farm staff itself was a great show of camaraderie and hard work, the like of which is rare to find in young adults with little experience. Everyone came to work with a positive predisposition and initiative. The entire staff at Wardensville was extremely friendly, and made my time there that much more pleasant. I consider the people I met there great friends now, and are a huge reason why I am eager to return.
I know that compared to modern industrial farms, Wardensville Garden Market is an extremely special place. I know that agriculture in America and abroad is seldom this perfect. I do, however, believe that places like Wardensville are great models for young people interested in becoming farmers (like myself) to learn from and share with the rest of the world. Pioneering agriculture in the future means becoming educated about the issues it faces today, as well as learning about potential solutions. For all these reasons, Wardensville Garden Market has inspired me and reaffirmed my desire to study and make a career in sustainable agriculture.