2017 PFIG Recipient Brooke Kinsey
Journal Entry #1
Advice that I've heard and been given time and time again is to do what you love and it will not even feel like work. In the case of my internship at the Local Food Hub I think I have found exactly that. I just completed week one of my time with the organization and have enjoyed every minute of it. Since high school I have continued to dive deeper and deeper into studying the food industry. My senior project in high school was a report on factory farms. This report spurred my interest in agriculture and its various complexities. Since then I have started working with UVA's Morven Kitchen Garden (MKG), a student run farm, as well as completed a research project, alongside MKG president Erika Stadsklev, proposing the creation of a farm incubator at the Morven Estate as a training grounds for young farmers without access to large amounts of capital and equipment.
The mission of the Local Food Hub is “providing access to farm sourced food for everyone.” I love this mission because it addresses both the need for supporting local farmers as well as the need to make access to food more equitable. There are several communities in Charlottesville that can actually be classified as being located in food deserts that do not have the same access to healthy foods as do other communities in the city. Local Food Hub has programs to help these areas such as Fresh Farmacy that delivers fresh, local produce to local health clinics as part of the patient “prescriptions” for healthy food. This past week I got to participate in putting together the food bags in the warehouse and then delivering them to the clinics. The interconnection between supporting local farmers through buying their produce and supporting local community members through supplying fresh produce is something that is really exciting to me.
Going forward I will be helping the Local Food Hub to create and grow an advisory board composed of farmers from various types and sizes of farms to better serve the farming community and inform the food hub how it can expand its services and provide more support to farmers. I am excited to get to interview farmers and be a part of the conversation of how we can make farming more accessible and prosperous in the future. By the end of the summer I hope to make a difference in this space and provide more leverage to new and old farmers alike to succeed.
Journal Entry #2
I am now a little over halfway through with my time with Local Food Hub and cannot believe how fast it has gone by. I have loved getting to know everyone within the the Local Food Hub family and the different services that the organization offers. Through this experience I have learned that I really enjoy working in a small organization where everyone is in constant communication and is focused on their specific areas, but also frequently works together with other staff. I also enjoy the transparency in the workplace and the sense of purpose and mission. I have participated in both the food access programs where LFH delivers fresh produce to free health clinics in the Charlottesville area as well as learned about how LFH helps farmers to get their produce into wholesale markets, which is traditionally much harder for small farms.
As part of my internship I have had the opportunity to go out and interview LFH growers and ask them about their experience with LFH and what services are beneficial to them. I have loved getting to meet the farmers and visit their farms as well as get first-hand feedback on how LFH can improve as well as what needs to be done in the food system in general. By the end of the summer I hope to be able to give LFH feedback from these interviews to help guide what services LFH offers in the future. The grower advisory committee is coming along as well and we plan to have our first meeting in the next couple of weeks! Going forward into the school year and job search I now feel that my scope has widened to include an interest in working with nonprofits as well as a confidence in my desire to work in this space of agriculture and local food systems. I have loved my time with LFH and will be sad when it comes to an end, but I plan to find ways to still be involved in the space in the future!
Journal Entry #3
This is my last week at Local Food Hub. As I reflect on these past two months this summer I am grateful for getting to work with such a great organization as well as learn as much as I have. I was able to get an inside look into what a food hub is and the important role it can play in a community.
My internship included two main responsibilities. One was to help organize and execute a meeting among a select group of growers called the Grower Advisory Committee. This committee was formed to help inform future decisions and programs that LFH will make and have in the future. The meeting was held last week and I was able to sit in and take notes. I learned how much goes into planning a meeting like this and the importance of attention to detail in the documents we created as well as having a clear mission for the meeting. I feel that there was great conversation and feedback during the meeting and I enjoyed getting to meet the growers I had been communicating with prior. Going forward my experience going through the planning process of a committee meeting such as this will help me know what steps and considerations need to be made in similar meetings.
My second responsibility was to work on a team to complete interviews with LFH partner producers to get feedback on ways that LFH can improve and what services are valuable to growers. This process also taught me a lot from managing communication and scheduling challenges to how to film a video on my computer with a portable camera! I interviewed 10 farms/organizations this summer and gained an immense amount of insight into the food system as well as the continued importance of supporting food hubs. I will finish up my internship by presenting my findings to LFH and hope that they will guide future considerations in addition to feedback from the Grower Advisory Committee.
Over all I can confidently say that this experience has made me realize my desire to work in this space and more specifically with food hubs. I learned the importance of communication within my team and other organization members and customers. I was given a lot of independence within my internship to complete tasks and think that I thrive when allowed to work on projects individually, but also think it is important to check-in when working independently and get feedback. At times I wasn’t sure if my projects were heading in the right direction, but ultimately I realized that sometimes what you may think are the answers you need aren’t actually the most valuable and that other realizations may come up that are even more important. I think it is important to have personal opinions, but just as much so to be open to other insights and perspectives because they may shape your work for the better. This internship allowed me to experience working for a non-profit as well as get to do work that directly impacts the local community, which is what I am really passionate about when it comes to food. Everyone deserves access to local food, especially when we are surrounded by so many great farms!