INTERN JOURNAL Insights and experiences from organic farms

California dreamin'
With one intern journalist on a spiritual sabbatical in the Andes, one finished for the season, and another too busy to write (they grow up so fast), our intern from the equator holds down the fort from her new vantage point on the Left Coast.

Posted December 9, 2004

Editor's NOTE
New Farm Introduces "Intern Journal"

In this new biweekly column, interns on farms across the United States and beyond climb out of the trenches to share the details of their day-to-day grind and the lessons learned in the field.

This next generation of farmers offers insights into what motivates them to go against the tide when so many farm families struggle to keep up-and-coming generations interested in farming.

As they will tell you, it’s a combination of love for the land, good food, sharing community, and a sense of purpose that keeps them going.

--NF Editors

Diana Oleas Chavez
California. November.

Diana is a visiting intern from Ecuador, who recently relocated to an organic farm in Vista, California after working the summer at Dripping Springs Gardens in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Diana is a participant in the MESA (Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture) program. For more information on MESA, visit

The time goes quickly, and now I am in a new farm in Vista, California. The name of the farm is Burnquist Organic, and the owner is a professional skateboarder who likes health food. This farm is managed for Scott Murray and his wife Laura Murray. There are Chinese women and English women working here.

Before I came to this new farm, I was in San Francisco for one week. This is very different from Fayetteville—there are more cars, houses and people. Here I saw all my MESAS friends—nine from Ecuador, two from France, three from Bolivia and six from Thailand. We enjoyed sharing all our experiences, which were really fantastic.

In San Francisco we were at Fort Mason Youth Hostel, there we had a MESA Program Evaluation and gave general comments about the program and our host farmers. I gave a presentation about my farm in Arkansas—Dripping Springs Garden. My friends said that my presentation was very interesting and I think the same, because I was at such a great farm with very good host farmers—Mark Cain and Michael Crane—who taught me about flowers and vegetable production. This was on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, we went to the San Francisco Aquarium by the bay, to Underwater World and to Alcatraz. I was amazed about the last one, because this is a big building on an island and nobody was able to leave from there. In one of its jails was Al Capone, a very famous criminal.

On Thursday, everybody hung out to shop or to walk in San Francisco…but not too far; it’s a big city.

Finally on Friday, we departed from San Francisco either to a new farm or to home. I came to Vista to meet Scott and Laura Murray.

On Monday Nov. 15, Scott gave me an orientation about the farm. They sell greens and herbs for six restaurants and to some families.

My farm assignments for this week were:

  • Weeding lettuce beds
  • Seeding beets, lettuce
  • Harvesting lettuce, parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, sorrel, marjoram, kale
  • Planting lavender, rosemary and ornamental garlic along the driving border
  • Reseeding lettuce
  • Making new beds
  • Repairing drip tape
  • Fixing row cover in some beds

Now I can’t make more bouquets because I no longer have flowers. I miss this a lot.