By Amber Burchett
Well hello there. Amber here, this summer’s farm intern at GreenHouse17. (That’s me, third from the left, with David Cooke, Jessica Ballard, and Mark Walden.)
As a Berea College student and Entrepreneurship for the Public Good candidate, this summer was my opportunity to find a place to intern where I could develop skills in community service and entrepreneurship that would align with some of my own career goals.
Let me tell you, the first time I heard about and later visited this meaningful and beautiful place, I knew I had found the perfect destination for the summer.
Immediately upon walking in the doorway and meeting some of the staff I was so impressed and felt such kinship with the real, down to earth nature of how the organization carried out its mission. Here was a place where survivors of domestic violence could really face what they may have been hiding from all along, where no one held unrealistic expectations of them but rather allowed hearts to open up and true emotions and potential to be revealed.
Now where I really connected down to my heart was the mission of coupling the gardens with this powerful counseling service. I had always envisioned a farm of my own that could be a place of safety for those who were hurting, needed peace, needed to sow their physical strength and heart into something that would pay back in beauty and nourishment. I had experienced this kind of “horticultural therapy” so to speak for myself and knew how powerful and healing it could be. What a beautiful gem to find in a place that brought together woman, a nurturing, beautiful, every-growing and deepening being to a garden, a place of beauty and depth that needed tender care.
Just like these women, and as I have heard staff here say, the flowers, fruits and vegetables that grow here are such parallels; they are strong, survivors of life’s storms and heat, created for a purpose and yet require tenderness and cultivation. I have heard testimony here of women who have chosen to work on a stipend program for the garden, while also learning a skill and being able to be self-sufficient, walk away with a realization that these growing creatures are perfect reflections of who they are.
I have heard women say while working in the garden, though hot, sweaty and dirty the work is also relaxing and therapeutic. What a gift. What an innovation. What a powerful tool and yet so simple.
As each flower blooms and little seedling emerges, I myself take so much joy and feel the refreshment wash over me. I have come here to be a benefit to this organization as much as possible. Each day I am here, however, I realize what a benefit this place is for me. There could really have been no better destination for my goal this summer during this particular time in my life.
I myself am in need of tender loving care and a loving watchful eye as I am also carrying new life inside of me. Starting my internship at six months pregnant, I immediately realized I had been paired with the most understanding supervisor I could possibly have in a place that could not have been more nourishing. I join the league of uplifted women and plants in thanksgiving for the existence of a place such as this.
What a beautiful and sweet adventure it has been and, I’m sure, will continue to be.