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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Antoine Bourdon, the first intern at Stella Gardens 2013

Antoine Bourdon is a young French engineer with plenty of vitality and positivism. He arrived at Michael Fields some days ago with the idea of getting far away from computers and offices, sinking his hands into the soil and getting broad experience at the gardens. He is the first intern of this 2013 season at Stella Gardens, the outdoor classroom of Michael Fields dedicated to training the next generation of young farmers or those simply interested in learning about sustainable agriculture.  Antoine studied environmental and industrial risk management at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées, an engineering school located in Rouen, a beautiful city of Normandy, in northern France.

“When I finished my Master’s degree a year ago, I realized I wanted to get concretely involved in environmental issues. (…)  I focused on agriculture because it is a good mix between biodiversity, water, soil, energy, and food management. That’s the reason why I contacted Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and seized this opportunity to work with plants, in the field, as an intern”.

The weather has not allowed him to work outside much in recent days, but he has been sowing at the greenhouse.

“I like to see how the seeds I just sowed are already starting to grow. That’s really special. This internship is very interesting because I’m learning plenty of new vocabulary that I didn’t even know in French. It’s really good all-around training for me”.

Antoine wants to develop agricultural skills to work on a farm where people grow a large variety of plants, and also to develop different areas of expertise, such as transforming plants, composting waste, building energy infrastructure, and hosting and educating people to create sustainable balance.

“I have a good general idea of what I want to do with this project in the future. But for now, I just want to meet people and get new ideas and points of view. I believe that this experience will help me to determine the best design for the community that I want to create”.

Antoine is also really interested in cooking with fresh local products and he wants to invent new and original recipes with fruits and vegetables from the gardens. He thinks these eight months of internship will help him acquire discipline and a daily routine in the fields and other activities such as yoga, English classes, and reading.  He knows what it means to live in the countryside and in a small town like East Troy. The inconvenience of not having a car or access to public transportation is outweighed by the peaceful surroundings, which offer him the peace and quiet he needs to focus on himself and his plans.  After this experience at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Antoine wants to keep traveling, starting in Asia, either Japan or China, but he also has the idea of working on a permaculture farm. While waiting to see what the future holds in store, he is busy getting his hands dirty and taking full advantage of the Stella Gardens program, workshops, farmers market, and field days at other farms or on projects that also advocate for sustainable agriculture.

Welcome to our institute Antoine!