All News

Summer Internships: Rachel Gass '23

September 21, 2022
Rachel Gass at the Ardmore Victory Garden holding small potatoes

Name: Rachel Gass
Class Year: 2023
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Deerfield, IL

Internship Organization: Ardmore Victory Gardens
Job Title: Summer Fellow
Location: Ardmore, PA

What’s happening at your internship?

I split my work between two main tasks: working in the garden and redesigning the Ardmore Victory Gardens website. I typically go into the garden two to three times per week. Each day I do something different to maintain the fifteen-bed space. Together with Frances, the garden coordinator, I weed, harvest produce, scout for pests, prune sick stems and energy “suckers,” and plant seedlings. Some days we visit neighbors’ homes to build or tend to overgrown raised beds. I’ve learned just how much work goes into growing a healthy and abundant garden, regardless of its size. Some weeks, we would put fifteen hours of work into the space and there would still be more work to be done. I consider that to be one of the many special parts of the space; its aliveness makes the garden dynamic, and we are partners in what I consider to be a beautiful co-production.

Ardmore Victory Garden next to Bethel AME church
Ardmore Victory Gardens adjacent to Bethel AME Church

When I’m not tending to the physical garden space, I’m redesigning the website. The goal of the redesign was to make an up-to-date website that was accessible and informative to both community members and grant organizations. I learned to strike a balance between information and required maintenance. Since we’re a small organization of two full-time staff and a handful of interns and volunteers, we don’t have the resources to update the website regularly. Instead, I designed the website to be a repository of where people can go next (ex. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on our upcoming events, contact us if you’d like a raised bed built at your home, check out recordings of past events here). We finally launched the website, and I encourage you to check it out at!

Why did you apply for this internship?

I chose this internship to gain hands-on and in-depth experience working in a(n) (sub)urban garden, connect with the Ardmore community, learn how to market a small community organization, and receive consistent mentorship. My major concentrates in sustainable food systems, and I have a great interest in engaging with food that nourishes individuals, communities, and the environment. AVG uses food to do just that: they distribute the produce directly to the community at no cost, build free raised beds at people’s homes, and host events in the garden space. One of the most special opportunities this internship provided was a connection with the surrounding community that I felt so distant from despite the Bi-Co being so nearby. I have a lot of love for the people I met, and I am grateful that they welcomed me into their community.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

Back in April, I met with mentor Dr. Young to discuss potential summer opportunities. She suggested I connect with Frances Condon, a recent Haverford graduate who had worked at the Haverfarm and now worked as the Garden Coordinator for the Ardmore Victory Garden. We scheduled a meeting, talked about the role of AVG intern and what I could contribute to it, and decided that I would be a good fit for the space and that we would make a good team. I consider my coworkers to be friends, and I am grateful to have a connection in the community garden space that I can go to for questions about the position and job opportunities once I graduate.

Eggplants, lettuce, and radish in baskets picked at ardmore victory gardens
One of our many harvests. This one contains eggplant, collards, many varieties of lettuce, and icicle radishes.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

I really like weeding. Many people find it tedious and frustrating because the task never ends, but that is precisely what I like about it. You’re never done weeding. There will never be zero weeds in a garden, and if there were, that would be a garden I wouldn’t want to be in. It would be without balance (and probably a lot of pesticides). All of this means that you’re never working toward a definitive endpoint, which makes it easier for me to focus on the task at hand and be in the moment. Any smaller number of weeds is better than before I started, so any amount of work I do is both good and enough. I think that’s an important lesson the garden taught me, and it is one that I will carry with me and take to other parts of my life as I leave AVG.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.

Environmental Studies