Monday, January 12, 2015

Internship at City Green

I had the opportunity to intern with City Green during the fall of 2014. I learned about City Green through my internship advisor at Montclair State University. After a long discussion about my interests, my hopes were to find a perfect placement where I could experience aspects of nutrition and community and also enhance my skills as a nutrition major. I was intrigued to learn that City Green works with low-income urban communities around northern New Jersey and enriches the lives of residents by addressing food insecurity, providing nutrition education, making organic produce available and accepting federal food benefits.

During my internship, I contributed in different capacities to help advance City Green’s mission and goals and witnessed the staff’s drive to make a difference in the communities they serve. As part of my internship, I participated in weekly harvests for the City Green markets. This was a great experience because living in a very populated urban area makes it difficult to engage in farming tasks. This opportunity was truly enjoyable and a great learning experience for me as I gained valuable knowledge from Todd, City Green’s farmer. He taught the interns all about the produce – from how and when to plant certain vegetables to harvesting them to even brainstorming ideas for preparing dishes with the harvested vegetables. 

Another aspect of my internship was preparing for the City Green Harvest Festival, a community celebration of the fall season in Paterson, NJ. This is a great event because City Green provides an open, friendly atmosphere in a natural, green space that many children in Paterson don’t often get to experience in their community. My task for the Harvest Festival was to develop a “Food Day” table for the children at the event where they could learn more about nutrition, the food industry and its impacts. I developed and executed a full project concept which helped me enhance my development skills, creativity and enjoy this event with the community. 

Along with the Harvest Festival, I also participated in the field trips at the City Green Eastside Park Learning Garden. This was fulfilling for me because I have always wanted to work with children and this gave me that opportunity. I also gained a better understanding of the lack of nutrition education in the school systems. I learned hands-on how City Green is a strong advocate for the betterment of the urban communities and the youth that reside in those same areas.

The final aspect of my internship experience was to help run the City Green Famers’ Market at the Clifton location. This was by far the most enjoyable experience for me not only because it was related to healthy eating but also because it gave me the time to really connect with the customers who were happy to access fresh and organic produce that they otherwise would not have been able to afford. One of my other market tasks included data collection of the market sales. Using this data, I put together charts and reports for City Green’s end of year report about the Double Value Coupon Program, which gives federal food benefits participants the opportunity to double their fresh produce purchase. 

All in all this was the most fulfilling and enjoyable experience I could ever ask for and truly appreciate the time and effort that City Green devotes to improving the lives of communities in Northern New Jersey. I also truly thank them for welcoming me into their team and giving me the most knowledge and skill growth I could have asked for in this internship.

by Chelsea Lounsbery
Chelsea completed her internship with City Green in fall 2014. She is currently pursuing a degree in Nutrition at Montclair State University.