A Word from Our Intern, Elle 

News: A Word from Our Intern, Elle

I have been interning at Fox Haven Farm, Retreat, & Learning Center since the beginning of February and the amount of information I have consumed in these quick two months is incredible. I asked to intern here with the curiosity of watching how this unique production works. I love the outdoors and learning about sustainable practices that could help me to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I want to pursue a career in nutrition, with an emphasis on environmental health and sustainability. Growing up with a childhood full of outdoor walks, nature hikes, and hours in my grandmother’s vegetable garden, I knew this job would be right up my alley. I am privileged enough to work with both Alecks Moss and Lacey Walker, two extremely hard-working people that I have gained so much respect for, simply observing the work they do every day. From writing out Instagram captions to getting my hands dirty planting seeds with Lacey, there are so many opportunities I have already received at Fox Haven. Gaining a thoughtful relationship with the land surrounding me is not something I would have initially stated as my primary goal before helping out here, but Lacey, Taylor, and Alecks have made that a new priority of mine. I am so happy to share some of the things I have learned along the way as well as the experience anyone is lucky to have that visits here!

My first month interning consisted of online tasks through Zoom and phone calls. I took an online social media course made for businesses and brands to help me brainstorm content. I then set up a social media calendar with the help of Alecks and began generating the captions for those upcoming posts. I even got to meet with Ashley Hoffman, the graphic designer here to discuss the look of our Instagram and the themes we would like to begin incorporating on those platforms. I took computer graphics at the beginning of high school and absolutely love getting creative so this was exciting for me.  I got to experience the business side of things when I uploaded upcoming events to the Frederick News-Post and organized contracts for the people coming to teach here. These online tasks were never boring to me and allowed me to feel taken seriously before the Spring season began.

The first thing I got to do outside with the Spring months approaching was a compost fill. I have had multiple compost experiments at my house growing up so I thought this would be the first thing I am familiar with. I was wrong in that there are so many other components that actually make compost besides whatever veggie, fruit, and eggshells I have.  Good compost should have a balance of nitrogen and carbon which can be derived from specific ingredients in the compost. Carbon can be found in cardboard, wood chips, fruit waste, pine needles, straw, and newspaper. Nitrogen is found in food and garden waste, hay, manures, weeds, and coffee grounds. I know it is simple but I had no idea I could put plastic and paper products in a compost! Compost is also a lot of work, especially on a big farm where it is largely important. You have to constantly manage the activities that go on inside of it and add more ingredients like extra straw and water to get the best results. I started my own compost at home that I bring to the farm each week. I get to include lots of things in it like the papers I have to put on my desk at school each day for sanitation. It feels fulfilling to know that my food scraps at home and even the waste all the way at my school can be used for something greater and beneficial to Fox Haven. This is the compost I started at my house. It is full of food and other scraps. I take this in weekly to mix with the compost at Fox Haven.

I have attended two foragers classes, both with primarily the same group of people. I go to take pictures but also get to experience the whole lesson which is great. Sitting in one of the 15-20 seats in the Dairy Parlor, observing the conversations between foragers has been fascinating. The first class was focused on the properties of willow that can be used to jumpstart the growth of elderberry. Taylor demonstrated effective and mindful pruning on an elderberry plant on the farm. I was there to take photos but was able to take home my own elderberry friend, too. My elderberry is doing great, starting to show some green and I have been saturating them every day. The second class I attended was led by Taylor, where we took a guided hike and practiced ID skills. We discussed the recent plants in bloom and ever since, I have pointed out too many maple trees to count! We took a look at the differences in black walnut trees and trees of heaven. We went all the way to a patch of spicebush and witch hazel where we spent some time observing the appearance and aromas they each gave off. We ended with mindful tea tasting in the Dairy Parlor. I have seen getting to attend these forager classes as a huge advantage to me because it is truly an experience I could not find anywhere else. I adore the group of people I get to share it with and look forward to each time I get to meet with them.

Pictured is when members of the class planted their elderberry plants. The elderberry had been sitting in the willow water which is the special helper to stimulate the growth of the willow.




Pictured is Taylor Roman showing the class a willow tree on the farm. He points out the parts of the branches that can be clipped and made into willow water.



My name is Elle Kaminski. I am 17 years old and currently a senior at Middletown High School. I am planning on attending a 4-year university Fall of 2021 to major in Dietetics or Environmental Science. I am eager to start my internship at Fox Haven to learn valuable information for my own college experience. I hope to learn about our planet and collaborate with the experts in my area. I love to cook, paint, run, play the piano, and do anything outside!



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