Permaculture Internship Reflections with Kaylee Savage-Wright

During spring quarter 2018, UC Santa Cruz senior Kaylee Savage-Wright worked with Santa Cruz Permaculture through a for-credit internship hosted by the UCSC Environmental Studies Department. We enjoyed working with her for the ten-week quarter. At the end of her internship, we asked her to reflect on her experience so we could share some of the behind-the-scenes work that we do.

Why did you sign up for this internship?

Originally when I signed up for this internship, I wanted to learn more about gardening, local flora and fauna, sustainable methods, phenology, and ecology. My major is anthropology. Most people think of studying dinosaurs or doing something related to India Jones, but it’s much more than that. I’m very interested in environmental and sustainability research and wanted to learn how to apply anthropology to that.

I also participated in an Anthropocene course and a Field Research and Conservation course during my time at UCSC. I feel these pertain a bit to the things I’ve been learning in this internship, as it deals with environmental changes and biological processes. It’s been really great having these experiences coincide and show me how applicable this internship can be to anthropology.

Kaylee planting alliums in the garden

What projects did you work on in this internship?

Though permaculture is more than just a way to garden, that is primarily the work I did with David Shaw and Cameron Salomon on the property where David lives. I’ve learned so much more about gardening than I ever thought I would, mainly because I hadn’t realized before how much goes into it.

In the past, I helped out in my parent’s garden, worked on family friends’ farms as a child, and my college housemates and I had tiny garden beds. Nothing was as in depth as this internship.

This time, I learned the why and how of the things I was doing. Perhaps most importantly, I understood the ways that working with the earth pertains to permaculture.

However, I did more than gardening. Helping out at the Santa Cruz Permaculture booth at Open Streets Watsonville allowed me to introduce permaculture to the public. Attendees learn about organizations in the area devoted to sustainability and resilient communities.

Open Streets Watsonville
The interactive Santa Cruz Permaculture booth at Open Streets Watsonville 2018, featuring a tabletop intersection repair project to explore creative ways to strengthen community resiliency through beautiful, fun, and practical projects. Learn more here.

In addition, I worked on the Bioregional Directory, which will be an online listing of local resources. It’s sort of like a yellow pages but for local and sustainable businesses, resources, and organizations–a “green pages”! Through the Bioregional Directory project, I learned about many local and sustainable businesses in Santa Cruz.

What have you learned in this internship?

I have gained a lot of new knowledge and experiences through this internship that I am excited to continue pursuing. For instance, I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the earth and the species of flora and fauna that reside in it. It’s been fun gaining skills in cultivating the land and various gardening techniques.

Over the course of these ten weeks, I have learned skills like plant identification and methods for digging beds. I’ve set up irrigation lines, witnessed the hazards of bamboo encroaching on a garden, and learned different approaches to composting.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve realized through this internship that I would love to be involved in some sort of permaculture community. When I graduate from UC Santa Cruz, I will look into different positions for environmental anthropology. I hope to continue to explore permaculture in the context of my studies at UCSC.

I know there is a lot more work to be done in my journey. This internship was a wonderful stepping-stone in the direction that I want to be going!

We wish Kaylee all the best in her adventures after graduating!

Santa Cruz Permaculture accepts currently enrolled university or community college students in the local area as interns. For more information, please contact us at santacruzpermaculture@gmail.com.

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