Reflections from a 2018 Intern
As the beginnings of winter settle in, my sixth-month long internship with Mission of Mary Cooperative will come to a close. At the start of my time here, the radiant summer mornings were spent harvesting and working diligently in the hopes of beating the sweltering afternoon humidity and swarms of relentless mosquitoes. The weeks of perspiration, stifling heat, and sandaled feet gradually gave way to the rich crispness that accompanies the onset of fall. The bite returned to the air, and the brilliant blue of the autumn sky became a canvas on which the changing pigments of the leaves could paint themselves. Now, in mid-November, the frosts have begun and preparations for winter are underway. In the icy, gray mornings, our breath swirls around us visibly as we ready the gardens for their winter rest. The greenhouse that was filled with unforgiving heat only a few short months ago now feels like a sweet haven away from the chilly winds that whisper through the streets. Our gloved hands have cleared the outdoor beds and covered them securely with tarps, and inside the safe walls of the greenhouses, luscious, leafy greens are thriving in their microclimates.
When I applied to intern at the farm, I was entangled in the void of my fourth semester of college and was feeling discouraged and under stimulated by the numbing, static cycle of lecture, laptop, paper, stress, exam, exhaustion, repeat. The last couple summers, I’ve traveled and worked on sustainable farms for room and board, and I was looking for something that embodied that spirit, but I wanted to find it close to home in the hopes of refreshing my outlook on my everyday reality. In the past, this spirit has revealed itself to me in the grand, picturesque landscapes of far-off, new places, but, sure enough, a version of it resides in the grungy, resilient streets of East Dayton. Mission of Mary is a place of peace, service, community, and innovation. Those affiliated with the cooperative are unique, shimmering, charismatic individuals who are actively working to improve the circumstances shared by themselves and their neighbors.
For three months now, my weeks have been segmented into three days of attending class and two days of farming at Mission of Mary. The contrast is staggering, and I find myself newly inspired and refreshed with each day I spent at the farm. Planting, harvesting, and interacting with this community feels much more real than any work performed in the classroom. With the smile of each person who looked upon their newly installed city-backyard garden bed, I was refreshed. With each crate of vegetables harvested, washed, and bundled, I was renewed. With the laughter of each child who scampered around the garden’s nature trail, I was nourished. The time I’ve spent at Mission of Mary has left me feeling humbled and inspired by the sought-after sentiment of being part of something larger than oneself. I hope to carry the spirit of Mission of Mary with me in future endeavors and spread its message of service and sustainability wherever I go.