Lill Lawrence-Paine ’20 discovers the true workmanship behind organic, local growing operations at Welcome Table Farm in Walla Walla, WA

My name is Lill Lawrence-Paine and I am a rising senior, Environmental Studies-Geology major. Interning for Welcome Table Farm this summer has been an incredibly rewarding experience! Every day on the farm is different from the last and the variety of tasks keeps the work fun and exciting. Welcome Table Farm is located on the Old Milton Highway in Walla Walla which provides a stunning scenery for days spent working outside. I have been able to learn about a lot of different aspects of growing, harvesting, and outputting local and organic food to the community in the past few weeks. The weeks work begins Monday morning with a farm walk. This entails all the members of the farm crew surveying the fields and establishing goals for the week. This weekly walk allows everyone to be on the same page and define goals clearly, making sure everyone has time to ask questions and clarify tasks for the coming week.

Before this job I often didn’t fully understand the work that goes into producing people’s food. Take lettuce for example, it seems so simple when you’re just throwing it in your shopping cart at the supermarket, but you gain a new appreciation for its materialization in your fridge when you’re helping produce that food first hand. In a single day I was able to transplant young lettuce from flats into the soil, harvest fully grown lettuce, wash it, weigh it into bags, and distribute it to the community. Getting to be involved in all the steps of the process has made me more aware of the energy it takes to produce food, especially organic, small-scale, locally grown food.

Another experience I’ve gotten to have through this internship is representing the farm at the Thursday Farmers Market at Lions Park in College Place. This opportunity has allowed me to hone my customer service skills and build relationships with customers over many weeks. It is great to feel so connected to the food I’m distributing and be able to answer customers questions because not only do I know the answer, but I also had a hand in helping produce the very product they are asking about. The hot and dry Walla Walla summer means that farm work starts early, around 7AM and ends roughly around 1PM. This schedule suits me well because I enjoy the cool, quiet mornings. I have loved my experience working at Welcome Table Farm so far and am excited to become even more involved in the wonderful farming community they have cultivated over the coming months.

Experiences like Lill Lawrence-Paine’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez


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