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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

Where are they now?

Judith M’Hone, a Garden Apprentice in the 2016 growing season at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, originally from Botswana, is now the Lead Farm Educator at City Growers, a nonprofit in New York, NY. A large part of Judith’s job is educating New York City youth about food systems and environmental awareness. She teaches youth about where their food comes from and how to explore the natural world. An interesting thing about being a Farm Educator at City Growers is that the farm is on a rooftop!
  Learn more at citygrowers.org   

How did your apprenticeship at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute prepare you for your current position at City Growers?

Integrating from the sheltered life of a student to that of a decent member of society can be a challenging one. However, apprenticing at MFAI allowed me the opportunity to make that transition seamlessly!

Currently working as an educator for youth on all things environmental and sustainable living I certainly believe being a part of the MFAI family certainly put me on this path, the boost in confidence I needed.

Through the program I was exposed to so many growing opportunities, from participating in growing trials in conjunction with UW-Madison to field trips to experience how different practices are applied across the state, close interaction with an amazing set of international people not to mention the wave of individuals met through the Gardens farmer’s market, opening my world to the wonders of agriculture across the globe from the mid-west to Vietnam and Mexico.

Working with youth now allows me to share those experiences and ideas as well as relate so much more with kids of differing backgrounds and preparing my workshops in a way that’s a better learning experience.

MFAI provided an environment where I could grow myself and in to think there is just so much out there to learn about agriculture and to have it structured in a way that is both hands on and enjoyable is incredibly invaluable. So much of it remains with you, making it so much easier to share it all with equal passion.

When did you know that you wanted to work in food?

I have always been a foodie, but back in high school I got the opportunity to really get my hands dirty and grow my own food. I took it lightly at first, thinking there was no way my carrots we’re actually going to grow. Guess what? They did! In that moment I was so proud of myself. After that, life happened, and I dipped my feet in other projects, but there was always just a longing for that feeling I got the first time. Then Christine Welcher (Garden Manager at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute) walked into my life and she was just a well of knowledge about everything! From choosing seeds to pickling, making jams and operating a tractor, to killing thistles and polishing my salesmanship. That experience and just watching her go out unafraid to fulfill her dreams inspired me to work at mine. That made that little ember I had in high school turn into a blazing fire. And now I can’t see myself doing anything else.

What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?

Definitely urban or rooftop farming. With the way cities are constantly expanding, the need for more locally sourced food only increases. The environmental benefits that are associated with green roofs would make such an immense impact that it’s only logical to have more across big cities. From lowering energy costs to reducing CSO’s and saving water, not only will it be beneficial to urban dwellers but also a new learning point for future generations on where our food comes from and it’s importance.