There are so many benefits to being an intern. As an intern, you gain firsthand experience of the “back stage” of an organization, company or business; you begin to develop a network of contacts and friends in the business; you learn how to do interesting things from those who know more than you.
I came to The Juniper Spoon as a 20-something who, after graduating college, wanted to take some time to sort myself out and to explore ideas and interests that inspired me. One of those big interests was in small agriculture, local food, and cooking. I was referred to TJS by a close friend who recognized that working for a catering business which focuses on sourcing from local farmers and producers might be a fit for me. And indeed it was! I came to visit Lali Hess at TJS in November of 2013 as a “guest staff member.” During that time I got to know the team and the business, and it gave both Lali and me the chance to work together and see if it might work for me to be the garden intern over the summer.
As the farm/garden intern, I lived in the kitchen… yes, IN THE KITCHEN. Of course, I didn’t sleep between the refrigerator and the oven, but in a bedroom that is attached to the commercial kitchen. For a foodie like me who loves cooking, this was a dream come true, as 80% of my “apartment” was a kitchen fit for a chef! Each morning I woke up and went to work in the gardens right outside my backdoor. Days were, at times, difficult with hot weather and heavy work to do each day, but I got stronger and more efficient as time went on. I learned everything from how to use a hoe to how to prune a fruit tree, and the planting schedule for various crops throughout the season. I loved the flexibility and responsibility I was given at The Juniper Spoon. The garden was really my project, and I felt a sense of shared ownership of it. I even got to contribute my own knowledge of beekeeping and initiated a small apiary on the property.
In addition to the growing and maintenance of the garden, I also was responsible for much of the processing and putting up of vegetables for kitchen use. I spent many nights canning jars and jars of tomatoes and salsas, or grilling, peeling and freezing peppers and eggplants. And all winter long we have used produce from the garden in our catered meals.
My time at The Juniper Spoon has come to an end. As we come full circle into a new growing season, I find myself reflecting on and appreciating the skills I’ve gained that I’ll use forever, and, of course, my wonderful new friends and family. I would encourage any young person to spend a season here as an intern, whether your intention is to become a caterer yourself, or a farmer, or to just learn how to garden like a pro.