Introducing Better Farm Intern Jaclyn Collins

Jackie (at right) and visiting artist Matthew Lane begin putting together a solar panel kit for one of Better Farm's outbuildings.
Jaclyn Collins, Intern, June 2011
BS, sustainability, Arizona State University
Associate of Arts, Kent State University
Jaclyn is a fresh-faced graduate from Arizona State University's prestigious sustainability program. She's specifically interested in sustainable farming and ecosystems, and plans to earn a master's degree in agriculture from Oregon State University. Jaclyn's extensive research into food systems and subsequent environmental degradation, food insecurity, and obesity has fueled her efforts and interests in local food production, distribution, consumption, composting systems, and waste.

We'll let her put it in her own words:

My Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainability has focused mainly on Sustainable Ecosystems. With this focus I have studied socio-economic systems and their direct impact on ecological systems. With this knowledge, I applied solutions to lessening these impacts through various means such as group and individual projects. In my junior year at ASU, I studied Sustainable Food and Farms, which focused on the complex drivers of our current food system and its effects ranging from environmental degradation, food insecurity, obesity, and more. In this class we focused on local food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste. Individually, I focused on local food production in which I studied a local Phoenix Community Garden and its ability to provide the surrounding area with a percentage of food security and community strengthening. As a senior, I am enrolled in a workshop that focuses on composting, with the goal of creating a campus-wide program for ASU. Individually I am researching composting technologies and various case studies that have worked for universities in the past. This workshop is heavily based on researching and incorporating sustainability principles into our final recommendations to ASU and various stakeholders. This is only a brief glimpse into my experience at the School of Sustainability. I have been immersed into wide ranging sustainability courses, challenges and solutions. My experience at the School of Sustainability has been life changing and empowering. I have developed a passion for sustainability and have made many lifestyle changes in light of this. I wish to take all the knowledge that I have learned out into the world and apply it in a real-world setting. My passion is sustainable food and farming and I hope to one day have my own organic farm and start urban farms in cities across the U.S.

Yup, this is going to be a good June. Here's what Jaci had to say about her entrance at the Farm:

I arrived at Better Farm in Redwood, NY early afternoon yesterday. The house (which is beautiful in itself!) is settled on a scenic lush 65-acres, nestled between area lakes. Any sane person would easily feel welcomed, at home and at ease. I came to Better Farm to get my hands dirty in hopes of walking away with some knowledge and experience in small-scale gardening/farming. What comes along with this is a chance to spend time with myself, and the wonderful people that also reside in the Better Farm house.

My first day as an intern consisted of me spending most of the morning and afternoon in the garden. I can’t yet tell you everything that is being grown, but I do know what I have planted: string beans and lentils! Aside from this, I did quite a bit of weeding and cleaning up in the garden. I also spent some time in the greenhouse straightening up, and pulling some weeds. Once I got a second wind after some yoga, I spent some time in one of the raised beds behind the house weeding.  I might transplant something’s into this bed tomorrow depending on what’s ready to be transplanted from the greenhouse.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.