MC Launches Urban Agriculture Internship with Groundwork Hudson Valley

This summer, three interns are expanding the rooftop garden to grow organic produce in an effort to keep local food costs low.

Not every summer intern can behold the fruits of their labor, but this year, three lucky Manhattan College undergraduates can. They are the first students to participate in the new Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES) Urban Agriculture Internship. Part education and part service, this unique paid internship gives students the opportunity to learn how to farm in an urban setting, growing organic produce on the College’s rooftop garden.

The internship was designed in collaboration with Groundwork Hudson Valley, an environmental restoration and community development non-profit located in the city of Yonkers. It includes educational sessions throughout the summer in urban farming techniques and hydroponics. In return, all yields will be donated to Groundwork’s “Get Fresh Yonkers Farm Co-Op” initiative, which helps deliver fresh, nutritious produce to the community at an affordable price.

“Urban agriculture is one of the new frontiers of urban resilience and sustainability, and our rooftop garden is giving our garden interns valuable skills and knowledge as they experiment with different ways of growing produce in this setting,” says Jeffrey Myers, Ph.D., director of CURES and internship adviser, and associate professor of English. “Our partnership with Groundwork Hudson Valley allows the interns to follow the process through to marketing and vending, gives them insight into issues surrounding food justice, and affords them a chance to give back, in this case literally, to the community.”

Manhattan’s partnership with Groundwork aligns with the College’s Lasallian values of education and service, as well as the renewed commitment to research, teaching, and community outreach in urban resilience and sustainability.

The inaugural interns are all members of the Green Club, a student organization dedicated to sustainability in the College, the community, and the world. Each comes from a different discipline, and is earning academic credit in addition to a stipend.

Communication major and current president of the Green Club, Arielle Simmons ’14, is earning credit by maintaining a blog about her experiences and discoveries. She is also minoring in environmental studies.

Civil engineering major Casey Barrett ’15 is earning credit toward her minor in urban studies. She hopes to forge a future career by integrating agriculture into urban infrastructures.

Management and international business major Gabe Quiroz ’14 is also earning urban studies credit toward a minor in the field. He hopes this internship is part of a growing Manhattan College tradition.

“I would really like to see the project expand,” Quiroz says. “I’d like to come back in ten years to see students still working on it and find the space completely transformed.”

As part of the experience, interns also have the opportunity to connect with local consumers and improve their market skills by vending their produce at Groundwork’s Get Fresh Farmers Market. Look for them in the Van der Donck Park every Saturday through October, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.