Leadville Outdoor Internships: Learning Local Agriculture

Spending Her Summer Digging in the Dirt

Learning About Agriculture Through a Local Farming Internship

Leadville Outdoor Internships
Sarah Duprey, Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies student, shares her experience as a summer intern at Weathervane Farm in Buena Vista, CO.

Natural Connection.

Leadville Outdoor InternshipsThere is something about connecting with the earth through gardening that pulls me at some deeper level. Cultivating plants for sustenance and survival has been a part of our species since the beginning of mankind. Maybe it’s just that elemental instinct that I feel. Whether it is simply that, or a more significant reason, something feels right in my soul working with plants, growing green things, and yes, getting my hands covered in dirt.

Several years ago, I worked for a brief time on my friend’s 2 acre family farm back on the East Coast. However, my time there only gave me a small sampling of how satisfying —and necessary — farm work can be. This summer, I discovered in a more tangible way the significance and passion that working with the Earth has for me.

It started back in the Spring semester of this year. It was while me and my classmates were immersed in the subject of local agriculture in our Human Geography course that the name of Weathervane Farm in Buena Vista was brought up. I was intrigued… ever since my short stint at my friend’s farm, I had toyed with the idea pursuing farming/gardening more seriously. My summer plans were open ended, and I knew I wanted to stick around the area and experience summertime in the mountains…

Seeking Experience.

Leadville Outdoor InternshipsAfter that class, a few weeks passed before I began researching Weathervane Farm, their philosophy on farming, their practices… and whether there were any available openings for interns. While exploring their website, I came across a remark that resonated deeply with me:

“All of our farming practices are rooted in developing a greater understanding of how we can best relate to the land and our community….We strive to understand and work in partnership with the organisms around us from the ground level of roots and soil up to trees and birds.” – Weathervane Farm Buena Vista

One of my passions that I see appearing time and again, is my desire to build sustainable communities that work with – not against- nature; Where the level of living creates a minimal ecological footprint on our environment. Seeing this same passion echoed in the philosophy of Weathervane was a catalyst to follow up my research with a phone call to the farm. After a short chat with Seth Roberts, who owns the farm with his wife, Caitlin, and a visit to the farm later that week, I was accepted as an intern.

May 25th was my first day on the job, and after 2 months of working on the farm, I couldn’t be happier with my summer internship. Not only are the crew of folks I’m working with incredible and inspirational, but I feel like my knowledge is growing each day as I learn the inner workings of running a 7 acre farm and 2 greenhouses.

Being this close to the the elemental processes of producing food – from planting to maintaining, harvesting, packaging, and selling our produce – my respect for the importance of local farms and farmers in each community has been solidified in my mind. While it’s easy to “glamorize” farming life, my time here this Summer has made me understand the amount of dedication, time, hard work, and genuine passion for one’s work, one needs to run a farm. But in the end the payoff is worth all the effort.

Building Sustainable Communities.

Leadville Outdoor InternshipsThe satisfaction I feel as we pack up the CSA share boxes with the bounty of our week; broccoli, turnips, Kale, sage, and snap peas, or as I hand a bunch of veggies to a customer at the Buena Vista farmers market, I realize the importance of the work that I contribute to.

With each forkful of food traveling over an average of 15,000 miles to reach us, the impact we can have if we supplement some of our usual shopping trips to the supermarket with a weekend trip to the local farmer’s markets will be vast. Fossil fuels are a major contributor to the global climate change we are experiencing currently, and significantly reducing the travel time of our food from farm to plate will, without a doubt, reduce our nation’s fossil fuel consumption exponentially.

Food is a necessity, and an integral part of our everyday lives. I believe that changing the way we look at our current food model, to more locally sourced food, can start a trend of changes toward a more sustainable communities. A small adjustment to our lifestyle can have a widespread impact if we are willing to make that change.  And who knows, maybe this switch will be the first ripple in the pond of our lives, slowly spreading outwards and starting a catalyst for other changes towards sustainable living for us, our towns, and hopefully our nation.

So for me? As satisfying as it is to come home after a busy day in the fields and Colorado sunshine with a handful of beets and cook them up for a delicious farm-fresh dinner, I also experience an incredible amount of fulfillment knowing that the work I do each day has a positive and widespread impact on not only my community but also the environment. And there is no better feeling I could ask for.

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