When I signed up to be the summer intern for Unity Gardens, I had no idea what I was in for. I remember the night before my first day on the job discussing with my friends what would be the most appropriate outfit to wear, a concern that seems pretty ridiculous in hindsight. Although my mom, the garden leader at the Zion church, is an amazing gardener, I had never taken much interest in gardening. My motivations for interning with Unity Gardens had more to do with the gardens’ mission and role in the community rather than actually, physically working outdoors in the garden. I came in knowing next to nothing about gardening. My first day at LaSalle Square, I was told to put down grass clippings (which keep down weeds and help to retain moisture, by the way!). Although a pretty simple task, I managed to completely invert the process, putting the clippings directly around plants instead of between rows. I remember Sara’s reaction when she saw my mistake was so characteristically positive. She saw it as nothing more than a great teaching moment and showed me how to do the job correctly. Now, entering my 12th week in the garden, not only can I spread grass clippings properly, I can plant most vegetables like a pro, I finally figured out how to effectively wield a hoe, and I can make straight (ish) mounds and rows. This summer, I discovered that I actually like gardening! Especially weeding, to the point that now, whenever I see weeds at the garden or not, I feel a strong compulsion to pull them.
This summer, a lot of my friends had internships in offices and research labs, in places like Chicago and Indianapolis, where they had to dress up every day and sit in stuffy cubicles. My internship was a bit different, and I feel like I really lucked out. Although, prior to this summer, I would never have described myself as an out-doorsy kind of a girl, and most definitely not a morning person, I absolutely loved waking up early and heading to the garden for a couple of hours every morning. I picked up skills that I will one day be able to take into my own garden, I found something that I really enjoy doing every day, and, most importantly, I know that all of the hours I put into the garden went toward something I can really be proud of: helping the community and feeding hungry people. Sara, consistently cheerful, and Mitch, the eternal grump, were both so great this summer and made my internship such an enjoyable experience. This fall I am headed back to Purdue for my final semester. Although I am not really sure what the future holds for me, I am sure that I will look back on my last college summer with fond memories of working away in the garden.
And Studebagels>Einsteins. Always.