As cliché as it sounds, these nine weeks have gone by incredibly fast. I’ve gotten to meet so many awesome people, see different parts of Detroit, and learn a lot about so many topics–agriculture, history, culture, and beyond. When I started at the DPFLI, I had zero experience in urban agriculture (or agriculture in general) and had no idea what to expect. Now, I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the farm and talking to other growers in Detroit, learning what it takes to plan and manage a farming operation and the unique environmental and social challenges of an urban growing environment. In my first blog post, I wrote that I thought “my willingness and ability to learn about a variety of topics” would help me be successful; this turned out to be very true. Every day, I had the opportunity to ask questions about something different, and have been really lucky to gain exposure to many perspectives and ideas that I didn’t know existed before. In particular, I had no idea that agriculture encompassed such a wide range of topics and expertise – having a glimpse into the work of MSU Extension (an organization which does a ton of stuff) expanded my view of what careers are possible.
I have to admit that before DCERP started, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and was worried that I would be in over my head or wouldn’t make any friends. Luckily, both of those worries were unfounded, and I’ve truly loved my time in Detroit, far more than I anticipated. In addition to all of the cool places I got to visit and the experiences I had, my time here was positive because of the people I met and the connections I made. In the first week of DCERP, my biggest hope for the program was that I would make “genuine connections and friends” with the other fellows and with the people at my site. I am very lucky to say that I feel I accomplished this goal. I’ve really enjoyed all of the outings and activities that I got to do with other fellows – going to Eastern Market on Saturday mornings, volunteering at other’s work sites, or visiting restaurants and museums in the city. I challenged myself to try to be more outgoing and active in building friendships this summer, and I think that my efforts paid off. In addition to that, my mentors have been absolutely incredible people to work with and learn from, and they created a very welcoming, friendly work environment. I’m sad to leave (although I am ready to enjoy a few weeks of rest) and will miss both the other fellows and my mentors, but am so glad I got to have these experiences. I’m hoping I’ll be able to stay in touch with all of the friends I’ve made this summer, and be able to visit the DPFLI again someday!