For the past month, Liam Brooks ’17 has spent most of his time planting, watering, and weeding at HWS Fribolin Farm as an intern for the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) Food Systems Program.
Brooks’ role on the farm involves assisting with preparations, seeding, and care of the 2015 plantings, such as tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, herbs, pumpkins, kale, corn, squash, and beans. Additionally, he assists Food Systems Program Manager Sarah Meyer with encouraging participation in and exposure of students, faculty, and staff to the campus farm, acquired in winter 2014. While interning, Brooks has managed the farm’s Instagram account, planned a strawberry picking field trip, and a sunflower planting party for the campus community.
Double majoring in economics and environmental studies, Brooks chose to apply for the internship as a way of gaining hands-on experience within the sustainable living sphere, aiming to further understand the economics of agricultural systems.
“I’ve always liked spending time outside. I went to a camp in high school centered around the outdoors so I knew I liked farming and doing manual labor. This internship is related to both of my majors and it enables me to invest in a community that I’m so much a part of.”
On campus, Brooks serves as an Eco Representative (EcoRep), a volunteer-based group that encourages economic, social, and environmental responsibility across campus. He also participates in intramural basketball and softball, and is an America Reads volunteer.
Though his interest in the environment began early on, Brooks’ academic studies at the Colleges have helped expand and direct his focus. This past semester he completed a course on the political economy of food and agriculture, heightening his awareness of how “flawed the industrial food system really is.” In response, he began pondering how his own experiences would enable him to help encourage further change.
“Students are trying to get more locally sourced, organic food on campus. I’ll be writing a proposal in the fall for the Real Food Challenge, which is a national campaign the FLI has been supportive of through research initiatives since 2012. We’re hopeful to change our purchasing practices at HWS.”
“There’s been a good mix of tasks. A lot of the work right now is establishing the gardens and planting, with regular upkeep of weeding and watering. We are also working on creating events as a way to get Fribolin Farm out there. Besides growing, outreach is our main goal right now- to heighten campus awareness about this special place. I hope it becomes a focal point for the sustainable and environmental programs. It’s truly an interdisciplinary place.”
With the end of his six-week internship approaching, Brooks reflected on his experience with a thankful heart, stating that “it has been everything [he] would have asked for.” Not only was he appreciative for the opportunity to spend some summer months in Geneva, but he was also glad to have been able to help accomplish tangible goals which will soon bear gifts for Geneva’s Community Lunch Program, Pasta Night, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Whitney Mauer’s “Sense of Place” class, and Finger Lakes Institute programing. “I know the Finger Lakes Institute is definitely a place I want to be involved in for the rest of my time here.”
At the conclusion of Brooks’ work in mid-July, Natalie Munderville ’16 will return to Geneva as the new Fribolin Farm intern for the remaining summer months, ensuring continuous growth and care for the property and programs.