Editor’s note: In this series, Colgate students share stories about their summer experiences in offices, labs, and open spaces across the world.

This summer, I am interning at the Colgate Community Garden. As a local source of organically grown food, the garden is a great asset and educational tool for the university’s sustainability program.

Growing up in New York City, my family tried and failed many times to grow vegetables in our tiny backyard. When I arrived at Colgate, I was excited to have the opportunity to work in a garden that would actually produce.

My interest increased in environmental studies classes, where I learned that organic farms and gardens address important social and environmental sustainability issues. Eating local produce reduces the energy that would otherwise be used in transportation from commercial farms. Additionally, community gardens can empower marginalized communities by providing affordable access to healthy foods.

As an intern, I work with others on the team to maintain the garden and help achieve its mission statement: educating and promoting local food and food justice at Colgate and in the Hamilton community.

For me, the most exciting aspect of the Community Garden is its relationship with the Hamilton Food Cupboard, whose volunteer staff strives to feed disadvantaged individuals in the area. Each spring, the food cupboard starts hundreds of vegetable plants and donates them to the garden. Then, when the garden team is ready to harvest, they donate half of the produce back to the food cupboard. Last year, the team donated approximately 1,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce, and we are hoping that the donations will increase every year.

The Community Garden is part of a large network of people who care about sustainable food, including Colgate students, professors, staff members, local proponents of Community Supported Agriculture, and community gardens at other universities.

I have learned so much about the important relationship between people and their food, and I am looking forward to incorporating this knowledge into future study, work, and life.