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Unlikely Interns on an Urban Farm

unlikely interns on an urban farm
Jim Bruner | Mezzacello Krisztian and Jim after mucking out the chicken run.
Jim Bruner | Mezzacello Managing the food waste on the rubber matte floor of the run, and protecting designer socks.
Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

Proper hand and boot sanitation.


We have had some unlikely interns on an urban farm over the years. It’s always good to have help, and I love hosting people at the farm, but after two years of summer camps, countless tours, and five interns I have learned two things:

  1. I will always learn something new
  2. I will have to teach new things to curious minds

A Set of Unique Skills

Recently we had the opportunity to host a guest visiting the US from Hungary. He was actually visiting my friend Todd to see a Columbus Crew game, but he was short on funds. So we offered to put him up for a week.

This gentleman is very charming, smart, and willing to work for room and board. He knows nothing about animals, waste, manures, compost, ecosystems, and soil health. They were refreshingly naive on that front.

They knew even less about robotics and automation. He is a city man who thought he was staying in a garden in the city. The size and the sights, sounds and smells of the animals surprised him.

That first morning when we mucked out the chicken coop he wore board shorts and flashy socks with slip on rubber shoes. I warned him on multiple occasions that those Versace socks were doomed, but it was just sweeping rubber mattes, how bad could it be?

It was bad. This is the part of living on an urban farm committed to sustainability that I love and hate. Nothing is easy, everything has a purpose. When people come in to my world expecting for convenience without understanding how sustainability is achieved, there is always a culture shock.

Nature Requires Complexity and Diversity Not Convenience

This is why I am so passionate about teaching farming and animal care through an applied STEM lens. It is how my mind works. This farm is an equation that needs to be approached with an understanding of where all the unknown variables and operators are coming from.

It is difficult for outsiders because they expect a 1:1 relationship between cause and effect, action and result. That cannot be true in the natural world. There are cascading effects and impacts.

I have written ad nauseam on this topic. The urban world (for the most part) is a facade of convenience. A one tool for one job kind of deal.

That is completely unsustainable. It becomes glaringly obvious when you intentionally design interconnected, interdependent, enclosed ecosystems in your yard. There will be no life if life can not flow and adapt around multiple nexus points.

More Guests and Better Training

We believe this is an area of growth at Mezzacello: Modeling sustainability and functional ecosystems to guests. I need to up my game in accessible training and level setting. For this I have NDIA to thank at the company level, and my dear Futball fan, Krisztian to thank at the individual level.

More to come on this topic. But for now I need to get the chores done. Maybe I will document where I keep all the extra pairs of boots while I am at it.

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