Our summer interns Sha’mir (Mir) Ravenell and Abdalee (Abby) De Castro reflect on their time supporting our community work in the Pasa Philly hub office and visiting farms around the city. This internship opportunity was coordinated through the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND).
Being members of the Pasa team for the past six weeks has been an incredible experience as two individuals wanting to learn more about their community. We’ve both learned about what goes on in farms besides just growing fresh food.
Land & spirituality
Sankofa Community Farm at Bartrams Garden was more than just a farm. More than just growing foods. They are cultured around the African Diaspora.
We had to have a reason, a good purpose of walking onto the farm.
“My purpose was to understand more about Sankofa and to get more spiritually connected to myself. When I walked in there I felt a different aura. It felt peaceful and safe in the garden.”
Culture & history
Norris Square Neighborhood Project is based on Puerto Rican and African culture. People in the community feel more connected to the farm because it’s their heritage and it’s their lifestyle.
Management & organization
When we visited Novick Urban Farm we learned that even though their space was small, they had two farms. They had a community garden and another garden to grow food to sell.
Organizing farms is very important. It’s important that you know which plants are which and that they are labeled. In order to have healthy and good growing food you need to have them separated and organized. You can’t have two plants that don’t benefit from each other growing side by side.
One of the main things we learned is that when certain crops don’t grow right, you have to learn from your mistakes and improve on them the next time. Learn from your losses.
Education & cooperation
In order for farms to manage farmers have to work together as a team. They have to communicate and trust each other in order to maintain a good team relationship. Our experience from going to farms like Truelove Seeds and seeing teams of farmers working together was amazing. They are respectful and take pride in growing the plants at their farm. They respect each other and are good at explaining and learning from one another.
Many of the farms we visited had youth involvement. Showing the youth how to manage farms and how to grow food is very important. It’s also better for communities to have the young ones working and being productive at farms. Training them and teaching them how to manage a garden or farm will be good for the future. It’s also making the younger generation more aware of the farm’s mission. The more the youth is educated about this the more help to the cause.
Community & policy
Learning about the experiences of others working at different farms felt amazing. We also got to work on a mapping project locating Pasa member farms in Pennsylvania on a map both digitally and on a paper map in the Philly office.
Meeting the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture and learning about the farming system as a whole was such a privilege to have had while working here.
We will be sure to take everything that we’ve learned and incorporate it all into our future as much as possible!
This internship opportunity was coordinated through the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development.