Career Connections


Heidi Engelhardt

Major: Culinary Science



Year: Junior
Hometown/State: Iowa

Company/Organization: Skyberry Farm
Company/Organization website: http://www.skyberryfarm.com/
Title: Farm Intern/Resident Chef
Destination: Portland, Oregon

Advisor/Coordinator Email: ebeirman@iastate.edu

I was responsible for...
Seeding, planting, tending to, harvesting a variety of crops on the farm. Also in charge of organizing, planning advertising for farm to table events.

I accomplished...
I tended to a three-acre farm everyday for about ten hours a day. I experienced the complete experience from planting the seed into the ground until it landed beautifully on the plates of many different people at two farm to table events.

My most valuable effort...
The most valuable project I worked on was learning that every plants components are different and need unique planting, watering and harvesting techniques in order to obtain the most nutrients. We would research everything about new plants that we wanted to grow and I learned all about the Pacific Northwest soil. Connecting the plants and the soil was a big part of the farm and it was very valuable because the people eating the food were really appreciative of it.

I learned...
The most valuable learning experience I had was to embrace my creativity with problem solving. I learned that patience and persistence are important on the farm. I learned that from my fellow farmers. Whether it was out in the field or in the kitchen, I learned that nothing goes as planned but to use my resources to find a new path to success.

I will never forget...
The most memorable experience was being able to sit down at a big, wooden table outside on the farm and share a beautiful meal. I shared this meal with the people who took care of all the food all summer that was on our plates, and got to share it with the community. It was colorful, nutritious and from our own backyard. It was one of the most rewarding feelings and experiences I have ever had.

A surprising discovery...
There is a lot of independence on what you can do on the farm. I learned a lot more than just how to plant a seed. I learned how to operate a small scale farm and build relationships with community. I also learned many things such as planting flowers, trees and even how to build a chicken coop. I realized there are a variety of skills needed to grow healthy food. This might change my manner in which I approach my profession because I never realized the passion I have for physical work and connectedness to food. I always thought I wanted to work in a lab but I am realizing I want a more hands on experience, with more creativity.

Advice for others...
If anyone would follow in my footsteps to Skyberry Farm, I would say do everything you can to improve and diversify the farm. It is a relatively young farm that is always open to new experiences and knowledge. They love to experiment and you can go to the farm for any type of experience you want like advertising, building, photographing, planting crops or even flowers. They are always looking to expand the farm in unique ways.

I first learned about this career-building experience from...
Family friends.

I landed this assignment by...
I contacted Skyberry Farms and told them what I am doing in school and what I hope to learn. I told them what I could bring to the farm and if they could support me in reaching my goals. They were extremely supportive and knew both the farm and I could benefit from my work and my knowledge.

I wanted this experience because...
I wanted to go outside of my comfort zone and experience a new place and a different type of environment surrounding food. I learned a lot about the farm beforehand and they had such a unique attitude towards food. I wanted to see what it was like and experience farming for the first time in my life.

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