|Ellie at West Haven Farm.
Groundswell volunteer Audrey Gyr caught up with former Groundswell student Ellie Limpert this past week to capture her reflections on her participation in Groundswell’s Summer Practicum in Sustainable Farming & Local Food Systems.
Groundswell: What is your background?
Ellie Limpert: I am a senior at Cornell University majoring in Biology and Society with a focus on Human and Environmental Health, and Agricultural Development. Before the Summer Practicum I was a nutritional science major. My minimal agricultural experience was as a horticulture apprentice at a greenhouse for 2 summers, and a bit of volunteering at Dilmun Hill the student Organic Farm. 2010- I was unsure how to spend my summer, I got an email from a sustainability club about the practicum and I was intrigued…looked into it, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
GS: Where are you and what are you doing now?
EL: I am currently studying abroad in Granada Spain—in an Environmental Studies program. I am taking classes on Sustainability in the Mediterranean, Environmental Politics of the European Union, and Ecosystems of the Andalucia. In addition (most exciting!) I have found work on a local small organic farm! Never would I have even dreamt of seeking this out on my own, but since working at West Haven I have been longing to be on a farm again—there honestly isn’t another way I’d rather spend my free time—and it’s one of my most cherished experiences here!
Speaking of this—I met the man through my professor of Ecosystems after expressing great interest in working on a farm—when we visited, the farmer was very impressed by my knowledge of working on a farm—what all the vegetables were, the weeds (they have purslane!) and my ability to jump right in.
GS: What are your plans?
EL: I have a few opportunities I’m exploring, but what I’m most excited about is the Peace Corps. I am currently in the process of applying, and I hope to work with Agricultural Development and Food Security in Latin America.
GS: How has your experience in the practicum shaped your thinking or your plans?
EL: My experiences in the summer practicum completely reshaped my thinking. Firstly, from the many prominent speakers we had to come lead our classes on Wednesdays, I was exposed to a variety of topics, issues, and opportunities I was until then unaware of. We were always stimulated, always learning, debating, sharing ideas, and although it was a “long” day (9am-4pm), I honestly left each class filled with an intense energy to learn more. As I said, I was originally a nutritional science major, but after the practicum decided to switch my focus to include Environmental Science and Agricultural Development. The Groundswell course really sparked an incredible interest within me. It wasn’t long before I caught the passion and excitement our instructors exuded, and I never wanted to lose that.
GS: Looking back, what was the biggest thing you got out of the Summer Practicum?
EL: When I was in the program one of the most inspiring things for me (and I touched on this above) was just being around such passionate people- everyone who came to lecture, or we met on our tours had such incredible passion, such drive for what they were doing. They were excited to be doing what they were for a living, and proud to share. None of them were making the big bucks but they were definitely some of the happiest people I had ever seen. It was really eye-opening after being forced into the fast-paced money-making mentality my entire life and it really taught me to follow what I believe in when it comes to the future, and possible jobs– do what excites me and makes me feel proud, rather than seeking the largest pay-check because that is where I will be more willing to give my 100%, that is where I will always be learning and always be teaching.