Urban Farm Apprenticeship
Our apprentices reflect back on their time with us
As our first cohort of Urban Farm Apprentices wrap up their time with Grow Pittsburgh, they reflect back on their experiences and what they’ll carry with them into their next adventures.
Sydnee Turner tells nearly everyone she meets about how she wants “to do business without losing my soul.” One thing she’s discovered over this summer was that farming keeps her soul intact. She says that her apprenticeship has taught her to appreciate food awareness and community growth.
Turner has gardened before but it was always a back-burner project. “Farming is awesome: I want to take it wherever I go and even if it’s not the primary thing I do, I will always have it in my life.”
Harold Simmons grew up on a six-acre farm in rural North Carolina and came to Pittsburgh Job Corps. “I want to take ideas from the different farms here and take it back home so that maybe we can be more productive, more successful.” His time as an Urban Farm Apprentice has taught him how to maximize his planting and time, something he thinks will be immediately helpful back home.
Simmons wishes that others valued rural areas with the same esteem others reserve for industrial, metropolitan areas, but admits Pittsburgh has its charms as well. “Growing up on a farm, it was just me and my family but now I’m around people of different backgrounds and cultures. It’s a little shocking and this program taught me it’s okay to be different.”
Andrea Foreman came to the program interested in the business aspects of farming. “It’s a learning process for me: I really knew nothing about farming before I got here, and I’m still getting used to it.” Andrea loves greenhouse work, finding her niche in transplanting seeds at The Frick Pittsburgh greenhouse.
Foreman isn’t set on a career path but is using her time with Grow Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Job Corps to experiment and grow in life.
Erik Gans is a second-year UFA. He originally applied because he wanted a worthwhile job that didn’t didn’t leave him in an “emotionally or financially bad” situation. He came back for seconds. “I really enjoyed last year and wanted to come back to learn new skills and improve on other things I didn’t master.”
Gans wants to be an electrical engineer working in sustainable energy, “There’s nothing wrong with a wind turbine, a solar panel with green bean sprouts all around it. I’ve always been a techie kid who loved machines more than people but also the kind of kid who needed to get outside and climb trees. Combining the two things I’ve always paid attention to is something I’m actively trying to bring into my life.”