Summer with the Recirculating Farms Coalition

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Hi y’all!

My name is Emily, and I am a rising senior with a double major in Environmental Studies and International Development (and a minor in Social Innovation). I’m from a small coastal town in New Hampshire, and decided to study in New Orleans to experience living in a different part of the country. I have absolutely fallen in love, and cannot wait to spend the summer living and working in this amazing city!

This summer I will be working with Growing Local NOLA, the local branch of a national organization called the Recirculating Farms Coalition. Recirculating farms operate by using recycled water instead of soil to grow crops. This method solves many current problems of the agriculture industry, such as lack of arable land and water scarcity. The Coalition focuses on developing policy to promote this method of agriculture. They also promote environmental education, organize healthy lifestyle workshops, and operate their own hydroponic and conventional farms. My internship will consist of both farm and office work… I am so excited to learn more about each aspect of this multifaceted organization!

The five Learning Objectives that I have planned for this internship are as follows:

  1. Gain a deeper understanding of the climate for food access, food justice and advocacy in New Orleans
    1. By working with the Recirculating Farms Coalition, I will be integrated into the New Orleans community of growers, which will allow me to question and bring up these issues with the citizens who have the most knowledge on the topic.
  2. Gain a basic knowledge of urban farming, from planting to harvesting
    1. I plan to spend two days per week on the farm, helping the main growers with whatever they need (and gaining a lot of knowledge in the process).
  3. Form connections with professional members of the New Orleans community, especially those with environmentally-centered careers
    1. Another advantage of immersing myself in this community is gaining connections with various actors in the food production industry in New Orleans
  4. Gain experience in grant-writing, research, and policy in the field of food access
    1. As a non-profit, this organization depends on grant funding. I hope to learn more about this process, as well as participate in some research that the Coalition does surrounding the topic of food justice.
  5. Better understand the role of women in farming and food advocacy, especially in relation to promoting sustainable growing
    1. Food advocacy is inherently a gendered topic. To start, men dominate the agriculture and food industry. This leads to discrimination and exploitation of female workers, especially those of color. Despite this unequal control over the industry, the number of female farmers is growing. Better yet, these women are advocating for a better food system at the same time as they are working on their farms. Advocating for women leadership of this sector will lead to better gender equality, a more sustainable food system, and a healthier human population. Furthermore, the Recirculating Farms Coalition is founded and run by Marianne Cufone, and its’ staff consists of many female professionals. This internship gives me the incredible opportunity to learn from these powerful and passionate woman, as well as continue increasing the number of females in this work force.

Obviously, there are many things to be excited about in this experience. First of all, I can’t wait to get my hands dirty during my early mornings on the farm! Second, I am really looking forward to being surrounded by a group of passionate and inspirational people who share my same interests and desires. Finally, I hope to contribute to this organization in whatever way possible. Looking forward to getting started!!

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