We’re thrilled to welcome Nisha Gudal to our urban farm production team this season through a partnership with Pennsylvania Assocation for Sustainable Agriculture’s (PASA) Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship program. The program is a formal apprenticeship registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, pairing beginning farmers with experienced farmers, or “master growers”, for a two-season, mutually beneficial training experience. Apprentices acquire 2,700+ hours of paid, on-the-job training and complete 200+ hours of related coursework, while the farmers who host them gain a committed employee invested in farming as a career.

Nisha will be growing alongside Farmer Nick at Braddock Farms for the next two growing seasons. Get to know more about her and what brought her to Grow Pittsburgh:

Where are you from?
I relocated to Pittsburgh in January, from my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I grew up and attended college.

What is your background in growing food?
Growing up my family had a large garden where we sometimes grew tomatoes and peppers. The summer before I started college I did my first farm internship at Nature and Nurture Seed Farm in Dexter, Michigan and enjoyed it so much that I went back every summer until I finished college. This past season I also worked part time at Green Things Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I got more experience with produce-oriented growing.

What interested you about the PASA apprenticeship?
I’ve spent a lot of time working on farms before, and although I have learned a ton from those experiences, I still don’t feel like I know enough to do it myself. I have a goal of one day managing a farm, so I was thrilled to find the PASA apprenticeship program. I’m excited to learn new skills such as crop planning, people management and the business side of farming as well as continue to do the hands-on tasks that I’ve enjoyed in the past.

Nisha transplanting tomatoes in the high tunnel at Braddock Farms.

What are you most excited to grow this season?
Everything! I love growing (and eating) fresh veggies and am excited to learn what all we’ll be growing.

Why is local food production and food justice important to you?
The path food takes to get to a consumer has an impact on a lot of people along the way, including the farmers, distributors, and food service workers, and it also has an enormous impact on the environment in terms of how the food is grown and distributed. Given that every person is a participant in the food system, I think it’s really important for people to understand where their food comes from so that they can fully appreciate what went into getting the food onto their plate. I think local food production is a great way to do this because it brings the process closer to home and provides an opportunity for building relationships between the people growing the food, preparing the food, and eating the food. I think local food production will also be very important as communities adapt to climate change and also as a way to reduce opportunities for inequality in our food system.