Today we want to say thank you to our Spring Farm Intern, Katie Stankard! A May 2020 graduate of JMU, Katie’s major in Geographic Science and passion for sustainable farming made her a perfect fit with our Project GROWS team. While it is sad to see her move on, we are still incredibly thankful for the amazing work that Katie did for our organization and the community! In reflecting on her time at Project GROWS, Katie had the following to say:

I first learned about Project Grows a few years ago through James Madison University’s alternative break program. We harvested potatoes, mulched lots of garden spaces and, most notably, worked all day during the solar eclipse. As a volunteer, I always loved the time I got to spend learning and working on the farm.  When I learned of the opportunity to dive in and work part-time as the spring farm intern, I was ecstatic! Because of my earlier experience with Project GROWS, I wanted to learn more about food production systems and was able to take classes through the geographic science program at JMU. I graduated in May, and I am interested in working with both food access and education while utilizing my knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS) in the future.

While this season has not gone much according to schedule, I’ve learned to let go of my expectations for how I thought the semester and season would go. Even when it felt the world was slowing to a halt, and the future was uncertain, the sugar snap peas kept on climbing up their trellises. The turnips exploded out of the ground. The Project GROWS farm was a constant reminder to continue growing. Community and coming together has shaped my time at Project GROWS, especially in the wake of COVID. I found great comfort in the amazing community the Project GROWS team fosters. The farm and its people became my constant—I’ve been able to learn about the different communities Project GROWS serves through planting and harvesting orders, and the great power that lies in organizations coming together to address community needs. In these ways, I felt more connected than ever, even in a time where togetherness isn’t possible or safe. I feel so grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to connect and learn within this community.