At 6 a.m., I groggily wake up and make myself a cup of coffee. I eat my breakfast and get in my car, and make the commute to work. When I arrive, I’m met with friendly faces and exciting opportunities I’ve never had before.
My Name is Dane Dewitt, and I’m a junior at the University of Louisville studying environmental science with a focus on botany. For the last four months, I’ve been working as an intern for the edible garden at Bernheim. I grew up in Bardstown, Kentucky, about 15 minutes away from Bernheim, and I went to the forest every now and then with some friends, but until I interned here, I never truly understood what a hidden gem this place was. It has been, by far, the most invigorating opportunity of my entire educational career.
Since I started working here, I have learned more about my field than ever before and made lasting connections with all of the employees here. The visitors are extremely nice, as are the volunteers, and the staff couldn’t be friendlier or more helpful. My main duties in the garden include planting and harvesting from raised beds, bringing fresh vegetables to our lovely café, Isaac’s Café, and general upkeep of the garden, which ranges from cutting grass to designing new features of the garden.
On top of all of this, Bernheim’s mission of connecting people with nature encourages exploration and education – school groups often come in the Garden, and I’ll get to walk around showing kids all of the cool plants we get to grow here. In the same vein, I’m encouraged to bring new ideas and projects to the team at Bernheim. I’ve established my own flower area of the garden and I’ve also been given the opportunity to experiment with growing oyster mushrooms on spent coffee grounds that we get from Isaac’s Café, and local coffee shops around the Bardstown area.
So far, I’ve learned about retaining soil moisture, crop rotation, and organic garden techniques like creating healthy compost and killing weeds with natural substances like vinegar. The best part of all of this is that my school gives me credit for the internship, so what I learn here helps me get closer to completing my degree.
My internship has created opportunities that will bolster my resume and I have learned many essentials for any endeavor in sustainability. I couldn’t be happier with my internship experience at Bernheim.
— Dane Dewitt, Edible Garden Intern