Pat Walker is a senior PSP Major and Film Minor. All PSP majors are required to do an internship prior to graduation. Over the course of Pat’s junior and senior year, he interned at City Farm, a ¾ acre urban farm in the Southside of Providence that is run by the South Side Community Land Trust. Pat describes his experience at City Farm as well as his experience as a PSP major.
How did you find out about the internship at City Farm?
I heard about the internship through a mentor and professor Keith Morton, who was working to improve the partnership with PC and SCLT and have a sustainable intern work at City Farm. The main issue was that the community assistant (CA) was missing the summer portion of the growing season, and that was such an important time for the farm and when things are the most vibrant.
At the time I was taking a special topics course Environment and Environmental Stewardship. I was just starting to get passionate about Environmental issues, and Keith was looking for an intern that would work on the farm for the entire growing season. Like some students, I was looking for an internship that was more meaningful to the work that I wanted to do, and I also wanted to live in Providence for the summer. I really had nothing to lose at the time, and my friends and family were pretty shocked that I was working on a farm in Providence. It all fell into place quite nicely actually.
Please describe your experience at City Farm, how it has impacted you as an individual, and how it has influenced what you want to do in your future?
As an individual it made me want to work in a position where I was an active, helpful, and reliable community member. City Farm’s reputation around Providence is based off of the good work that it does and how it treats the community. It taught me to get out and explore other parts of the city and explore new landmarks, restaurants, culture, and neighborhoods. We were delivering to restaurants that I have never been to or known have existed, and I felt really good that I was delivering them an amazing product that will make their restaurant flourish. The normal PC student does not venture off into the city as much as they should, and through this internship I was introduced to another community that is just 10 minutes away.
The land trust and City Farm do an amazing job of community engagement and how they leverage resources. Everyone is welcome at City Farm, and it is a truly an example of a safe space for different people to all come together and unite over food. It pushed me to work hard and with other individuals to produce food that will go back into the community and will be sold locally. I was also able to witness firsthand the environmental issues that I studied in classes. Especially when it comes to a small organic farm we are farming with a give and take relationship with the Earth. Old practices such as seed saving and composting had an incredible impact on my life, and I know that I want to go into some sort of environmental work moving forward. There were also new practices such as a barter system that City Farm has with a local coffee shop White Electric. The coffee shop provided a tab in exchange for fresh cut flowers every week, and that was a great example of community members relying on each other because that is what they need to do. Working outside with nature was an amazing experience that is now such a large part of who I am as an individual. It was fascinating to implement these practices of sustainability and I saw it as an act of resistance to the environmental degradation that is happening in our world.
How has being a PSP major impacted your experience at PC?
PSP has made me into an overall more organized person and stronger leader. If it was not for PSP and the Feinstein Institute I probably would not be at Providence College in the first place. The PSP major threw me into communities through service learning, and that made me look at the communities so much differently than I ever thought I would have. The PSP major has made me realize that the closer you are to these problems of social justice, the easier you can understand and sympathize what individuals are going through. The major has taught me that service is about helping others help themselves, and part of that is having conversations and more importantly listening. Building relationships take time, trust, energy, and effort. We do have the power to create social change, and the PSP department is the place to start. I have had so much support from the department and my fellow classmates who push me to be the best person I can be. The department has fueled my passions for environmental issues and has made a tremendous impact on my experience at PC.