This summer at Lettuce Link we’re lucky to have a stellar intern crew. Today, we’re featuring the writing of Victoria, who left her home in Texas to spend the summer in Seattle with Lettuce Link as a DukeEngage intern.
It’s hard to imagine a job that involves monitoring school recess, teaching children how to cook, leading volunteers, and organizing a chicken cooperative. But Lettuce Link AmeriCorps member Amanda Horvath had that job and did it all.
“I had spent my last couple of years working at our school’s organic garden and studying our food system and food policy,” Horvath said. “This position was a perfect mesh of being able to get my hands dirty and learning about what it takes to grow food.”
Horvath started work on September 1, 2012. During the fall, she worked in the Lettuce Link office at Solid Ground, performed outreach cooking demos at the Providence Regina House food bank in South Park, and worked at Marra Farm.
“When I started on the farm,” Horvath said, “I shadowed Sue to learn about how she led workparties and then slowly transitioned into leading workparties around the farm and doing more hands-on work.”
During the winter, Horvath increased her time in the office in order to organize a tour for the American Community Gardening Association Conference in August, and organized a chicken cooperative project for the South Park community.
“I had never run a project before and was really grateful [Lettuce Link Program Manager] Michelle let me do it,” Horvath said. “I learned that working with people is very challenging. I have a new appreciation for those who have the ability to work with people who have different interests, different ideas, and different ways of working and then bringing them together around a common goal.”
In addition to working in the office, Horvath spent Thursday afternoons at Concord International Elementary School, helping support the school’s move to schedule lunch after recess.
“I helped with the transition,” Horvath said, “by going to the playground, oftentimes monitoring behavior, and hanging out with the kids in the lunchroom. I also realized that the kids did not have sufficient time to eat lunch. They were given twenty minutes, but getting through the lunch line would sometimes take ten minutes. I started recording how many kids had not finished eating at the end of lunch and wrote a report for the staff. At the last staff meeting of the school year, they were unsure about continuing to scheduling lunch after recess, but committed to working on the issue of kids not having enough time to eat.”
When Lettuce Link’s garden classes started in the spring, Horvath co-taught fifth graders during the school day from Concord with Lettuce Link Education Coordinator Amelia Swinton and taught an afterschool class that incorporated cooking, nutrition, and gardening.
“My favorite role was working with the kids,” Horvath said. “I enjoyed the outdoor setting—getting to be a teacher but not necessarily being inside a classroom. It’s fun to see the kids be so excited about being in the garden. I definitely want to work with kids in the future. I’ll either get a degree in teaching or a master’s in public health that will be related to working with kids or working on childhood obesity or other child development issues.”
Horvath finished her AmeriCorps term on July 14, 2013.
“The biggest challenge,” Horvath said, “was grappling with the idea that I was doing a lot of community outreach and being involved with the community while knowing that I was leaving in ten and a half months. It’s such a short time period to build a relationship with the community and then just leave. It’s a really hard transition. This is something I’ve thought about a lot throughout my life, and I’m still struggling to figure out why I keep choosing to put myself in positions where I am involved for a short period and then leave. But through AmeriCorps I found my dream job I could do for a full year, and I loved it.”
Q: How did you initially become interested in food activism?
A: When I started working on my school’s farm, I realized that there were a lot of disparities in our food system, and that same year I was part of a Northwest Earth Institute discussion course. The book I read had a lot to do with food justice. I then took a general public policy class that had a section dedicated to food policy, and I instantly fell in love with it. I realized I could study food all the time and ended up writing my term paper on food policy and from there just kept exploring.
Q: Did you grow up gardening?
A: My mom loved to garden, and I hated it with a passion. When I was little, she would try to get me to weed in the garden or plant things, and I hated it. Now my parents think it’s hilarious that I work on a farm.
Q: What are you going to do now?
A: I’m going to nanny for six months and then travel for several months to Central and South America, studying food cultures.